Elementary school staff delivers ray of sunshine to Richmond students

“Even though we are apart, we are growing together.”

That was the message from Wanda Salewski, principal at Jessie Wowk elementary, near No. 2 and Williams roads, after she and some staff members spent the entire day in the rain personally delivering a very special package to the homes of each and every one of their 220 students.

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Inside the package was a sunflower seed (planted by staff), materials to document their learning (booklet, crayons, and pen), a chocolate sunflower, an instruction sheet of how to care for the sunflower and the plans for the project.

Attached to the bag, said Salewski, was a poem, describing the project.

“They care for the sunflower at home and then, when it is about 15 cm, they plant it at home or bring it back to school to plant in one of our garden plots,” she told the Richmond News.

“What a happy welcome it will be to see all those sunflowers greeting us when we come back in September or whenever we do come back. 

“If the flowers don’t come back, that’s fine too. The most important thing is that we are doing this same activity together.”

Salewski, whose own family pitched in as well, said the bags were donated by Bulldog Bag, a local company, and the sunflower chocolates were made by Sinfully the Best, a Steveston business.

“I sent emails to families telling them about a special delivery that was going to arrive on their doorsteps,” she added.

“The delivery day was the highlight of the project for everyone.  Children and families were so excited to have a special delivery and see someone from school at their doorstep.

“It warmed my heart to see many of the children in their pyjamas, so thrilled and happy to see us. 

“By the time I arrived back at school after my deliveries, emails were already arriving, thanking me and the entire school for being so caring and thoughtful and for connecting with them.”

Salewski said her idea was grounded in her “belief that shared experiences in schools, just like in families, develop a sense of belonging and community.

“I arrived at Wowk in February and found the community to be warm and caring. I wanted to do something to connect with families, something that we could all do even though we are apart because of COVID 19.

“This shared experience, gives us something in common, to talk about now and celebrate when we return to school.  It is more than just a learning experience.”

To keep the project alive over the coming weeks and months, Salewski is going to be posting photos and activities on the school’s website and families have been asked to check in once a week for a sunflower update.

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