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Our Community: Oaklands' 100th turns back the clock

Alumni of Oaklands Elementary School would have felt a sense of nostalgia last week as they visited their old stomping grounds during the school’s centennial celebrations.

Alumni of Oaklands Elementary School would have felt a sense of nostalgia last week as they visited their old stomping grounds during the school’s centennial celebrations.

Students and staff wanted to do something special to commemorate the school’s 100th anniversary. They hit upon the idea of taking visitors on a journey back in time, with 10 classrooms each representing a decade over the past century. Guests were transported to the past, with students dressed in period costumes and classrooms adorned with archival photographs and historic displays.

The sense of community and continuity was everywhere.

“We had a parent who was a student in the ’70s who met up with his teacher,” said principal Holly Holt. “[Oaklands] is an amazing, close-knit community. Many of our former students have stayed in the community. Some former students’ grandchildren now attend the school.”

Oaklands school, on Belmont Avenue, has a population of 400 kindergarten to Grade 5 students — and every student played a part in the celebration.

“Each class paired with another to work on the project, deciding on the theme and costumes,” said Grade 3 teacher Debbie Walasek, one of the driving forces behind the event. “The kids learned a lot about the decade they were responsible for bringing to life, and then travelled around to the other classrooms to view the other decades.”

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Parents have one more tool to safeguard their children with the establishment of a permanent, free fingerprinting station at a local business.

Jenner Chevrolet Buick GMC has partnered with Operation Kidsafe to offer a safety kit for parents that includes taking fingerprints of children. The fingerprints and other information can then be given to police in case the child goes missing or for other emergencies.

The dealership is the first on the Island to acquire the equipment and one of about a dozen across Canada. Operation Kidsafe has been operating primarily in the U.S. and says it has fingerprinted one million children so far.

“The dealership has always had a history with community involvement,” said general manager Fred Jenner. “We think this initiative is a good fit with the dealership’s commitment to local families.”

His three children, Makenzie, 12, Sylviann, 10 and Hudson, 7, were among the first children to at the launch of the system on Wednesday.

Sixteen of the dealership’s employees have been trained on the equipment, which consists of a computer, digital fingerprint reader and camera. Parents can access the equipment anytime the dealership is open. The system is easy to use and the process can be completed in less than a minute.

No personal information is taken. Instead, parents are given a printed card with their child’s fingerprints and photo — personal details can be filled in at home. While Operation Kidsafe is new to the area, other organizations have done similar work. Child Find B.C. is a not-for-profit charitable organization that also offers programs and services to reduce child victimization and has operated in B.C. since 1984.

“We certainly support the initiative,” said Kathy Rochlitz, media spokeswoman for the West Shore detachment of the RCMP. “Parents are very busy these days. We welcome any extra opportunity they get to collect current information — fingerprints, a current photo, height and weight — of their children.”

For more information, go to


Family and friends crowded Colwood council chambers on Monday to witness two residents of the municipality presented with the Colwood Pay it Forward Award, which recognizes acts of charity in the community.

Over the Christmas season, Kaelyn Abrahamson, 7, sold poinsettias to raise $700 to help sick children at B.C. Children’s Hospital. The youngster is now planning other fundraisers through the year, such as a Mother’s Day hanging basket sale.

Niki Ottosen has been filling backpacks with warm clothes, personal hygiene items, food and treats to distribute for the homeless every Christmas since 2008. While her goal was to assemble 100 packs, she surpassed that last month, giving out 130 gifts for those in need.

“The Colwood Pay it Forward program was designed to acknowledge and encourage acts of kindness and generosity in our community,” Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton said in a statement. “Kaelyn and Niki need no encouragement. Their generous actions inspire each of us to act on our instinct to help, no matter what age we are or how limited our resources may be.”


Variety — The Children’s Charity returns to the airways with the 48th annual Show of Hearts Telethon Saturday and Sunday on Global B.C. Last year the charity raised more than $7 million to support families of children with special needs.

“The telethon is our signature fundraiser,” said Bernice Scholten, executive director of Variety. “Once a year we ask viewers to invite us into their living rooms to see firsthand the impact their donations make and ask them to support children who have special needs. Variety is about families supporting families and there’s nothing more powerful than that.”

Last year the charity provided grants to almost 1,300 families and organizations offering specialized programs and services to children who have special needs. The funding paid for things such as new equipment, expensive life-saving medications, physical therapies, mobility devices and educational bursaries.

The telethon this year includes performances by Bruce Springsteen, Barbara Streisand, Elton John and Cirque du Soleil.

The telethon starts at 7 p.m. Saturday and continues until 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

The Glenlyon Norfolk School senior band took part in the Disney Performing Arts Program, entertaining visitors at Disneyland last month.

Dance groups, choirs, ensembles and marching bands from around the world apply every year to be part of the program at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Students were exposed to various teaching styles and instructional techniques by Disney professionals.


Staples Canada, in collaboration with Earth Day Canada, is bringing back the Recycle for Education computer lab contest, won last year by students at Campus View Elementary School in Gordon Head.

The national contest recognizes the efforts of students and schools with green initiatives — conserving electricity, using alternative transport, using less water or recycling. The contest ends Feb. 21 with winners announced in early May.

The top prize is a computer lab valued at $25,000. For more information, go to


The Nanaimo and District Museum Society marks its 50th anniversary this year with a request for donations of local artifacts or photos taken in 1964.

“We are creating a 1964 collection to commemorate our city in the year the museum society started,” said museum general manager Debbie Trueman. “We’re asking the community to donate artifacts or photos from 1964 that tell a good Nanaimo story.”

She also notes that organizers are interested in reconnecting with people who were involved in the early days of the museum society.

Artifact donation inquiries should be directed to museum curator David Hill-Turner. For more information, go to


Visitors to Sidney taking an early-morning walk shouldn’t be alarmed if a stranger approaches them with an offer of a reflective armband. The stranger is probably Sidney Coun. Kenny Podmore, who has spearheaded the Glow as You Go campaign in Sidney and North Saanich, now in its second year.

The campaign came about in the winter of 2012 in response to a number of accidents involving pedestrians being hit by vehicles because of poor visibility. The high-visibility armbands make pedestrians easier to see at night.

“I believe that prevention is always better than cause,” said Podmore, who is also Sidney’s town crier. “There hadn’t been any accidents, but I wanted to raise awareness to make sure people are able to see and be seen.”

Last year Sidney handed out 1,400 armbands, the cost subsidized by the RCMP and ICBC. This year the Victoria Airport Authority has come on board, as well as the District of North Saanich and MLA Gary Holman’s office.

The airport authority joined the campaign because of the number of walkers, cyclists and runners on the airport’s Flight Path, a 9.3-kilometre multi-use path around the airport

“Even with the Flight Path’s safety features such as crosswalks with lights and physical separation from the roadways, we applaud this initiative to help raise awareness on the importance of high-visibility clothing, regardless of where you are walking or cycling,” said Geoff Dickson, president and CEO of the Victoria Airport.

Free reflective bands are available at the Sidney town hall, District of North Saanich municipal hall, Town of Sidney driver services and MLA Gary Holman’s office.

For more information, go to


Admirers of the late Sir Winston Churchill are planning a get-together today to mark the 49th anniversary of his death on Jan. 24, 1965.

People are asked to meet at noon in the Bengal Room of the Fairmont Empress hotel to mingle with other fans of the war-time British prime minister. At 2 p.m., the group gathers at the hawthorn tree that Churchill planted in Mayor’s Grove in Beacon Hill Park (near the Quadra Street entrance). Times Colonist columnist Les Leyne will lead a toast.

For more information, contact Mayo McDonough, volunteer executive director of the Churchill Foundation Vancouver Island:

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