Blueberry School – Truly a Caring Community

As educators, we often talk about creating safe and caring communities.  Blueberry School prides itself on the sense of community that we have created together with our staff, students, parents and others throughout the area.

Over the past several months I have been fortunate enough to be witness to the true strength of our learning community and it’s a story that needs to be shared. Beginning with the end in mind, take 2 minutes (literally) to watch this video which shares the courageous story of a grade 4 Blueberry School student, Dane Womacks, who has been diagnosed with T Cell Lukemia and the support he is receiving from an amazing community.

Virtually all of us know someone who has battled Cancer (consider yourself extremely lucky if you haven’t) but it really takes on a different meaning when it’s a young child and a member of your school. If the video above touched you, spend the next 4 minutes watching  Dane’s Story, as he was featured on a local TV station earlier this year.  I am confident you will be touched again.

From the moment our school and community became aware of Dane’s plight, people sprung into action. Classmates purchased an iPad and several apps for Dane with funds they raised during their Caring Kids Campaign.  While they knew they couldn’t be there for him during treatments they wanted to help to make these as bearable as possible.

A trust fund was established for Dane and his family, his classmates created cards and the messages shown below which are being put on a special pillow case for Dane.

Dane's Pillow Case

Most recently one of our parents spearheaded an extreme room makeover for Dane.

Dane's Room Makeover

Approximately a Dozen community members volunteered their time and expertise to build, paint and create an amazing space for Dane.  Dane’s extreme room makeover was featured in our local newspaper in this story.

Efforts to support Dane and his family have continued recently as our students in grade 4 decided that they wanted to take an active role in supporting Dane.  After a bit of class discussion, they decided to do a bake sale.  Yes, it’s a fundraising option that has been done before, but not like this!

When the call went out to parents to provide baked goods for this worthwhile cause, we couldn’t find enough space to house all of the amazing tasty creations!  They kept coming and coming.  On the day of the sale kids throughout the school purchased cookies, muffins and tons of other tasty treats for 25 cents each, all to support Dane.  Their first Bake Sale raised over $600!  I can’t wait to see what this week’s bake sale will bring in.

Dane’s journey has touched so many that when I shared the story with my own 8-year-old daughter she convinced her mom to spend Sunday baking together.  We will now be contributing chocolate chip cookies, Christmas cookies (hand painted by an 8-year-old!) and some sort of pretzel type creation?

The activities and events described above have not only been helpful to Dane and his family, but they have served as a great learning opportunity on empathy and compassion for our kids.  It is during times like these that we really get to see the strength of our community.  I am proud to be a member of the Blueberry learning community and if you’re lucky enough to be a member, you should be proud too.

Shaye Patras

Principal, Blueberry School

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About Shaye Patras

I am a husband and father of two fantastic girls. I currently work as the Principal of Woodhaven Middle School in Parkland School Division in Alberta, Canada. I am excited to be continuing my administrative career in this learning community!
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