Ponoka’s Bright Futures Play Academy doing well in new space

The preschool now operates out of the old ‘Pink School’

(Photos submitted)

Ponoka’s Bright Futures Play Academy’s new home in the old ‘Pink School’ is working out very well for staff and students after the first few weeks of classes.

“It works out quite nicely,” said Kacey Oehlerking, Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS) learning services coordinator.

The preschool moved into its new space over the summer, beginning in late June.

Enrolment at Ponoka Elementary School has remained strong over the last couple of years and with its population growth, more space was needed, says Oehlerking.

“Space was at a premium.”

She says the Play Academy finding new space was the “logical choice,” as it’s a program run within the school, but it has a compressed calendar and slightly different schedule than the rest of the school, and there’s lot of people coming and going throughout the day with the morning and afternoon classes.

The pre-k program now has its own entrance and a larger space than it had before. Now there is an additional kindergarten classroom in the room the Play Academy formerly used.

“We’re really pleased with how it’s working out.”

The preschool’s move is unrelated to COVID-19, says Oehlerking, adding the move was likely inevitable, pandemic or no.

The Pink School is currently used by the town’s transportation department in the south section, the Ponoka Air Cadets in the middle, and now the Play Academy on the north end, where the town administration used to be housed before the Civic Centre was completed.

When they looked at the space in the Pink School, they saw the potential, says Oehlerking.

The space was ‘move-in’ ready, with no renovations needed. All they needed to do was move over their furniture, equipment, toys and other decor, and add a fridge and dishwasher in the kitchen and set up a staff room.

The space already had a bonus kitchen, its own washrooms, and break out office spaces that are now being used when a separate space is needed for service providers to work with the children, such as speech pathologists.

The preschool’s COVID-19 re-entry plan is the same as the rest of the school division, with some considerations for young learners.

There is an emphasis on washing hands and sneezing and coughing etiquette, with hand sanitizing stations set up, as well as increased cleaning and disinfecting.

There are separate toys for each cohort of students and they are cleaned after being used.

“We are trying to ensure that things are just that much cleaner.”

The preschool follows the same guidelines when it comes to students with symptoms as the rest of the school division.

Although classes are a bit smaller this fall, with some families making different choices due to the ongoing pandemic, enrollment for Play Academy remains strong, especially in Ponoka, says Oehlerking.

However, as numbers of cases in Ponoka remain low, there has been a late uptick in enrollments, she says.

There is some limited space available for those interested. To register, contact the WCPS division office or check their website, brightfuturesplayacademy.ca, for more information.

PonokaWolf Creek Public Schools

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