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Red Deer school wins national challenge

Canadian Geographic’s Queen’s Jubilee Classroom Challenge won by Oriole Park Elementary School class
Red Deer Public Schools board trustee Jim Watters (back left) and deputy superintendent Dan Lower (back right) applaud as École Oriole Park School students Isabella Fraser (front left) and Logan Ervin accept a $1,150 after class won through Canadian Geographic’s Queen’s Jubilee Classroom Challenge. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

Red Deer students earned $1,150 for their school by winning a national contest.

Canadian Geographic hosted its Queen’s Jubilee Classroom Challenge earlier this year, where students were tasked with learning about native plants, raising awareness about these plants’ importance and taking action to support them.

Last year’s Grade 4 class at École Oriole Park Elementary School in Red Deer has been announced as the grand prize winner. A cheque was awarded to the now Grade 5 class at the Capstone Common Ground Garden Project site on Friday.

ReThink Red Deer, which partnered with the City of Red Deer for the Capstone Common Ground Garden Project, invited students to work in the garden in early 2022.

“At the beginning, we thought it would be fun, especially after COVID, for the kids to have a hands-on project that combined curriculum … with a real experience in the garden,” Sylvia Kennedy, retired teacher and education lead for ReThink Red Deer.

Starting in mid-April, students walked a near-six-kilometre round trip from Oriole Park School to the Capstone site on 45 Street, where they would work for an afternoon and learn how to garden.

Melanie Beebe, Grade 5 teacher at Oriole Park, said the students came together to make this project a success.

“It’s a big group, but many hands make light work,” said Beebe, who would walk with the students to the garden each week, except when there was rain.

Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away earlier this month, was a supporter and advocate for the preservation and renewal in plants and gardens, according to Canadian Geographic’s website.

It’s uncertain if Oriole Park School will continue to have students learn about gardening at the Capstone Common Ground Garden Project moving forward.

Lori Irvine, the school’s principal, said the school has started fundraising for a garden on school grounds.

“That ball is rolling. We just got a concrete pad poured for a First Nations medicine wheel circle to start, then we’ll build garden boxes at our school so we can grow food for the children at our own building as well,” Irvine said.

The actual usage of the $1,150 grand prize is still to be determined. But the school will use this as an opportunity to teach students about financial literacy, math skills and appropriate ways to spend money for a group, said Irvine.

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Sean McIntosh

About the Author: Sean McIntosh

Sean joined the Red Deer Advocate team in the summer of 2017. Originally from Ontario, he worked in a small town of 2,000 in Saskatchewan for seven months before coming to Central Alberta.
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