New stage hits sweet notes at Saltfleet

Last updated on Wednesday, February 09, 2022

When Saltfleet District High School’s music department hosts a concert, the entire mass band can now fit on the new, expanded stage in the cafetorium.

That’s thanks to $63,000 worth of generosity from the Heritage Green Community Trust (HGCT), which allowed for a reconstructed stage that is almost two metres bigger, along with new modern curtains, and portable sound gear that can be integrated into the existing system.

“The whole school is so proud of the stage,” said Christine Nicolaides, principal at Saltfleet. “It hadn’t been looking its best and some teachers had done their own homemade renovations. It really needed an investment.”

The old stage was uneven and worn down, and couldn’t fit all the music students when they performed together.

Nicolaides, who came to the school as principal in 2017, applied for a grant and was thrilled to get it in July 2018.

“It’s so great to see all the kids fit on this beautiful stage they now have to perform on. The students so appreciate it.”

The school hosted a stage ribbon-cutting and performance to thank the HGCT for its donation, along with shooting a video to show its gratitude. The cafetorium has become a central gathering place for the school and for community performances and events, says Nicolaides.

“It doesn’t creak,” student Evan Turner said of the rebuilt stage in the thank you video. “The old one used to creak a lot when you walked across it, and there is a lot more space. So say we have a mass band performance, we have to fit everyone from the music department on the stage, and with the new stage, we’ll be able to fit everyone easily.”

The HGCT is the charitable fund of the Terrapure Environmental Stoney Creek Regional Facility at the corner of Mud Street and Upper Centennial Parkway. It opened in 1996 as the Taro East Landfill.

The Taro Community Trust was established in May 1997 and in 2006 the name was changed to the Heritage Green Community Trust. The Trust distributes grants to individuals or organizations who clearly provide demonstrable benefits to residents in the City of Stoney Creek residing south of the Niagara Escarpment and within three kilometers of the perimeter of the Terrapure Environmental Stoney Creek Regional Facility.

The HGCT, which supports a range of educational, recreational, health, and cultural projects, has five community representatives, two members from Terrapure, and a city councillor.

“This is so interesting and fulfilling because you are able to see the benefits this Trust can bring to local schools,” said Liz Richardson, who is in her second term as a community member of HGCT.

“Both of my children graduated from Saltfleet, one in 2014 and one in 2016, so my kids reaped the benefits of the Trust.”

The HGCT has contributed $93,000 to Saltfleet since 1998. The money has gone to a range of projects, including an astronomical observatory, an outdoor sign, motorized bleachers in the gym, an outdoor basketball court, and musical instruments.

“We are so lucky to be able to access the Trust. It allows us to fund projects that are not in the normal scope of the facilities plan for the school board,” said Nicolaides. She’s already working out the next project she will seek funds for, when Saltfleet is next eligible to apply in 2020.

The Trust also supports students with scholarships. Last year, eight of 12 scholarships went to Saltfleet students. To earn the $2,500 scholarship, students write an essay explaining how they would improve their community.

In addition to Saltfleet, the HGCT supports the following HWDSB schools: Billy Green, Gatestone, Janet Lee, Michelle Jean, Mount Albion, Summit Park and Tapleytown.

The Trust has contributed more than $510,000 to HWDSB schools since 1998, including $45,000 to a naturalized playground and learning commons upgrades at Janet Lee and $42,000 to a new play structure at Mount Albion, both in 2018.

“There is so much need in our community and it’s wonderful that community groups such as Heritage Green Community Trust are helping schools with these projects,” said Leah Schwenger, chair of the Hamilton Foundation for Student Success.

The Foundation is focused on student needs, so the types of capital projects that the HGCT can support are beyond the scope of the Foundation, says Schwenger, a retired elementary school principal in Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board. The hope is to partner with more community organizations to support schools and students.

“These are the kinds of projects that really make a school a welcoming place. We depend on organizations like the HGCT.”

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