OLD PERLICAN, N.L. — A new track and field located behind the high school in Old Perlican will serve the physical education needs of students for years to come, while also honouring the legacy of one of their own.
A dedication ceremony was held Tuesday, June 12, outside Baccalieu Collegiate to formally christen the Brandon Harris Field, named in memory of a former student killed in a motor vehicle accident in December of 2014. Harris, a well-regarded athlete from Sibley’s Cove, was 17.
“I wasn’t planning on saying anything, but I felt that I couldn’t let it go without saying how grateful I am for everything that this school has done to help and support our family,” his mother Colleen Harris told the assembled audience Tuesday. “I hope everyone here enjoys it, because I know Brandon would have.”
Work to establish the field, which is fenced in and includes a track surrounding a grass playing surface, has been ongoing for years. Relatives of Brandon from the Harris and Squires families contributed $9,000 towards the project, and the Biscan Cove Committee (formed over a decade ago to spearhead the project) worked with the school to raise close to $8,500. A further $5,000 came from a trust fund linked to local schools that closed many years ago, and the provincial government pitched in with nearly $20,000 from a pair of grants.
“This is a great moment for our school and a great moment for our students and those that will come in the future,” said David AuCoin, the school’s physical education teacher.
Given Brandon’s active involvement in sports at the school and the way his life was tragically cut short, the decision to name the new field in his honour was considered an appropriate gesture.
“Brandon was an important part of our sports program here at Baccalieu,” school council co-president Matthew Kelly said Tuesday.
“Brandon would have enjoyed this field, but we are so privileged to be here to honour him and his memory,” added fellow co-president Tara Snelgrove.
The track and field’s size is 30,000 square feet, or little over two-thirds of an acre. AuCoin said the students have already used the field for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter. He’s expects it will get the students more engaged in sports that haven’t been traditionally a big part of Baccalieu Collegiate’s history, such as soccer.
Colleen Harris was joined by Brandon’s dad Darrin Harris to unveil a sign featuring a photo of Brandon taken at a cross-country meet that will be displayed next to the field. After cutting a ceremonial ribbon, the pair were quick to lead students, school staff and other guests on a lap around the track. Students also took to the field to toss footballs and play soccer.