New whale deck dazzles, educates kids


On a clear day, a brand-new deck on the playground of Sunset Ridge School offers students the ability to sit and stare at the whales in the ocean. At some point, plaques with information on whales will line the railing of the deck so students can learn about the animals.

Last year, the kids were trying to do their yearly clean-up duty, but found themselves distracted by breeching whales.

"As we were out here, we saw the whales and we did an all-call, a lot of classrooms came out and we watched the whales breeched," said Principal Ellie Cundiff.

The students really didn't have a place to sit and appreciate the view. Student Kenny Camacho said he used to sit against a fence and wait for the whales.

"Now we have something to something to stand on top of and sit on," Camacho said.

Parent John Edwards put the word out to fellow parents and the PTA that they would need a lot of help to make the deck happen. The response was overwhelming: A local bakery and coffee chain provided snacks and fuel to keep them going.

When Kayla Nerg was principal for a day, she decided to reach out to Home Depot for help and was surprised when the company made a $9,000 donation and sent work crews over to help.

"I stumbled, and I couldn't stop smiling," Nerg said.

The deck was finished earlier this week, just in time for the first week of school. The kids now have a place to watch for the whales and dolphins that play in their backyard.

"I like 'em, because they're real cool and beautiful," said fifth grader Conor Jensen.

"I like how it turned out," said Nerg.

The deck is shaped like a whale's tail. The deck was completely paid for through private donations. No taxpayer money was used in the construction of the deck.

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