AVIVA: The night before the big day

January 27, 2014

Last September, when we moved into our new school, I was feeling upbeat, excited about the change. Putting all our kids under one roof seemed like an improvement to the disjointed and musty portables at the old school. By the third week, however, I wasn’t feeling so positive.

Little things started irritating me: the soap was unreachable in the bathroom, the grade 7s seemed so strong and loud compared with the 5 year olds they shared an entrance with, and at the end of the day the kids were coming out of school with sweaty foreheads and red cheeks because their classrooms were baking from the hot sun.

Then there was the playground situation: one structure to be shared among the 400+ students. We couldn’t help but compare it to the variety of play areas our kids enjoyed at the old school. So much work had been done there, thanks to so many hardworking and generous parents, and now we were faced with the monumental task of planning, fundraising and implementing a new outdoor space at this school.

Then Mona Kaiser found the Aviva Community Fund. She drew up the plans, shared them with our dedicated PAC, and the rest of us followed behind them shouting about it to everyone we knew. Daily. Annoyingly. We even danced in a flash-mob video, choreographed by the talented and courageous Deb Smith. And it worked, because after two public voting rounds and what feels like ages since making it into the final judging round, here we are, one sleep away from receiving our prize, anywhere from $5000 to $150,000.

I don’t think we would have even hoped for the grand prize if Mona hadn’t believed we could win it, which she did, as she said in her daily emails to some 400+ voters. So I believed because she believed, which is why I danced in that video and was relentless in my reminders to my Facebook friends to vote.

What’s funny is the amount we win has become less important. Instead, this was about how much effort our parents and community put into helping us win the voting rounds. That effort has made me no longer irritated by those little things, as I was in September. Those are small details that our teachers and administrators continue to iron out, but this whole process has proven that our PAC and community are as strong as they ever were at the old school.

If we win $5000, that’s $10,000 more than we would have had if we’d never entered this competition (thanks Speedy Auto Glass!), and it’ll be the start of an amazing outdoor space for our kids and community. If we win $150,000, it’ll be like winning the lottery.

Regardless, we are a better school for entering, and I’m buying Mona Kaiser a drink.


  1. and the second drink is on me! This is a great post and it really brings the thoughts that many of us parents had as we moved from our much beloved “Duncan El” to the dreaded middle school. I, for one, never doubted that our amazing school community would make the transition one of potential and possibilities! It isn’t the bricks and structure that made Duncan El so incredible, it was us…all of us; from our dedicated teachers and relentless principal to the parents that come by on a daily, weekly or monthly visit to lend a helping hand. We brought our community with us, along with good memories, and a willingness to help our kids have the best school experience possible. We will continue to face challenges, but I know for a fact that we will do so with many eager hands and hearts, weak backs (we are getting older, ya know) fresh ideas, new faces and an unwavering school spirit! Bravo! Mount Prevost Elementary, bravo!

  2. Well said Maeve.. I can’t believe we won! We really needed some positive news and to think that we will actually get some real improvements instead of empty promises and patch up work is very encouraging.

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