St. Thomas Academy parents, students, faculty and staff and clergy celebrated Friday with the blessing of the school’s new playground equipment.

Bishop Liam Cary, the sixth bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Baker, visited the Redmond parish to bless the new equipment and praise the fundraising effort.

“When I was a child in the 1950s, playing on the Ochoco grade school playground, I developed important memories to my foundation,” Bishop Cary told the audience, which was socially distance in front of the playground for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “While those memories may fade, children need to have those memories because they can come with significant meaning.” He also emphasized that exercise is an important part of a child’s development to “play to win” as good Christians.

The $150,000 project will serve preschoolers through eighth graders. The academy, now in its 15th year, serves about 150 students.

Praised was heaped on parents Janelle Kreuzner, Nistassa Rigez and Bill Huff by school principal Patty Schulte and Father Todd Unger for their hard work in accomplishing the project.

The Parents at St. Thomas Academy, or PASTA, raised $72,000 of the $150,000 project. Students contributed their spare coins and helped with numerous fundraisers as well. The rest was donated equipment, volunteer time, labor and services.

“When you start with a mustard seed, you can move mountains,” remarked Kreuzner, who lead the fundraising committee.

A wall of plaques will support the names of significant contributors to the effort at the playground.

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