Connaught PS gets a boost

Jackie Barratt, breakfast program volunteer (left) and Connaught principal Amy Hannah in the newly renovated school kitchen. Connaught Public School is one of 154 schools in Ottawa that participate in the Ottawa School Breakfast Program. Photo by Anita Grace.

Imagine renovating an entire kitchen in just one day. With the help of a team of Home Depot employees and contractors, parent volunteers and school staff, Connaught Public School did just that on March 31.

Used for the Ottawa School Breakfast Program, the Extended Day Program, and for cooking lessons, the kitchen at this Wellington West school is a small space that does big things. But with approximately 20 years since its last update, the cupboard doors were falling off and the mismatched counter tops were wearing down.

Now, thanks to the donation of time, labour and money from the South Keys Home Depot, the kitchen looks brand new.

“How lucky we are to have this!” says Amy Hannah, Connaught’s principal. “We never could have done this on our own. It’s a true gift.”

Improvements include two new stoves, a new faucet, cupboard hardware, custom-built counter tops and a backsplash. In addition, all the cupboard doors were taken down, sanded and repainted, courtesy of C.I.L. representative Steve Quinn.

The breakfast program at Connaught serves 60-75 people each day, which includes students and caregivers. With a catchment area including Hintonburg, Mechanicsville and Wellington West, “there is a real diversity of students we serve,” Hannah notes.

Fabian Mallette is the Home Depot store manager who coordinated the renovation and brought an eight-person crew. Every year his store takes on a few projects to support the community.

Renovating a school kitchen brings obvious benefits to the recipients, but is also rewarding for the staff and contractors.

“After we were finished, the kids sang for us and said thank you,” says Mallette. “You could see on everybody’s faces, they were so happy.”

Hannah says one of the motivations to improve the facilities was to thank the dedicated breakfast program volunteer, Jackie Barratt.

“She is a volunteer par excellence,” Hannah explains, noting that Barratt is whole-heartedly committed to the program and makes sure the children eat well and get balanced meals.


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