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Wildflower unveils outdoor playground, announces new principal

The Nelson school unpaved parking lot for the area
Students help complete Nelson Wildflower School’s new playground. Photo: Submitted

Submitted by School District 8

Nelson Wildflower School has unpaved a parking lot and turned it into a playground paradise.

Students from kindergarten through Grade 9 now have access to a “wildscape” playground that increases the amount green space children can enjoy at school while creating an area of natural habitat for insects and other naturally occurring wildlife within an urban setting.

“We have realized a long-term goal of the parents, students, and staff of Nelson Wildflower to enhance a portion of the tarmac at the former Central School Building so that children can enjoy a vibrant natural playground to complement the school’s sports field, and raised garden area,” said Principal Misty Terpstra.

The $60,000 project was paid for primarily by funds raised over the last four years by the Nelson Wildflower Parent Advisory Council (PAC), who contributed $45,000 to bring the playground design to life.

SD8 contributed $15,000 toward a playground slide, and the Nelson Wildflower PAC, families, local businesses, and other volunteers contributed in kind to the project with support from SD8 staff.

The playground includes a ball hockey and basketball court, a two-metre-high earthen hill with a railing and natural steps, a slide, and perennial gardens around the perimeter of the hill that incorporate nooks for students to sit and play. The playground is also designed to serve as an outdoor gathering and teaching space.

The project was approved by the district in spring 2022, following which the Wildflower PAC hired North Mountain Construction to make their vision of a wild, outdoor play space a reality over the next year. The PAC relied on support from parents within the school community who volunteered their time and energy to make the project a success.

“We are so thrilled to have this natural playground completed and to see children playing in it every day. This has been a community effort and couldn’t have been completed without the dedication of our PAC, SD8 staff and so many others who supported the project,” said Nelson Wildflower PAC chair Megan Paterson.

School District 8 has also since announced that Dr. Derek Markides will take over as principal of Wildflower on Aug. 1 while Terpstra will transfer to Salmo Elementary.

Markides grew up on the unceded territory of the Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en peoples in Smithers, B.C. and has served as principal at a K-9 school since 2020 and as a vice-principal since 2017. His teaching experience spans from kindergarten through Grade 12 where he taught primarily math and physical education.

“I extend a warm welcome to Principal Markides to our district and to Wildflower Nelson where I know he will find an equally warm welcome this coming school year,” said superintendent Trish Smillie.

“SD8 is fortunate that all of our school leadership positions are now filled for the 2023-2024 school year. We have an incredibly talented, qualified and committed group of leaders and educators ready to inspire and support each learner to thrive in a caring learning environment.”

Nelson Wildflower School celebrates the new playground, which it fundraised for over four years. Photo: Submitted