Elgin students play for a purpose

$2,000 raised in honour of longtime South Surrey teacher

If the late Myles Winch had been at Elgin Park Secondary last Friday – when students spent hours being active, inside and out – there’s a good chance he’d have been impressed.

“A bunch of kids playing sports? I think he’d be a fan,” Mike Jamieson, a former neighbour and colleague of Winch’s, said of the ‘Play4Purpose’ event.

Organized in Winch’s name – the longtime Surrey teacher died last September following a year-long battle with cancer – the sports day was touted as an opportunity to “be involved in something that is bigger than ourselves while having some fun playing outside and doing what we enjoy.”

Joined by students from Ray Shepherd Elementary – all of Elgin’s feeder schools were invited, however, most had previous commitments for the day – EPS students played ultimate Frisbee, soccer, basketball, badminton, ping pong and bocce. There was also live music, as the school’s band members showcased their talents.

The day raised about $2,000 – each student paid $10 to participate – for the Myles Winch Go Play Outside scholarship fund at Semiahmoo Secondary, where Winch, who was an Abbotsford resident, spent the final years of his 42-year career with the Surrey School District. The fund supports bursaries for students who are interested in outdoor education; the first award was presented at Semi’s commencement ceremony June 7.

The event also collected donations for the local food bank.

At Semi, Winch was a phys-ed teacher, athletic director, coach and math teacher.

Prior to teaching there, he worked his way through Cloverdale Junior, Earl Marriott Secondary and Elgin Park, ever-touting the value of outdoor education and being active.

Opening Friday’s afternoon events, EPS teacher Tim Booker told students that Winch was “probably the biggest influence on my own career.”

“He spent more hours with young people like yourselves than anyone else I know,” Booker said.

Booker told Peace Arch News that Winch was always there as a coach and mentor when needed, both for students and teachers – he respected everybody, and was well-respected.

PE department head Sue Janzen told PAN she first met Winch more than 30 years ago, when she was just a student herself. Even then, he was always creating opportunities for everyone to be included, she said.

In organizing Play4Purpose – the planning for which began last summer – “we kind of tried to emulate that.”

“It was about getting outside and playing.”

The event was not the first organized in honour of Winch.

In March, students at Semi hosted the 1st Annual Myles Winch Ultimate Frisbee Tournament.

Twelve teams from various Surrey schools took part.

“While the weather was wet, the ultimate players’ excitement and drive outweighed,” a note in the Totems April newsletter states. “We had beautiful weather for the finals! Mr. Winch would have been proud of such an event!”

Janzen said Elgin will likely host a similar event next year, possibly benefiting a different cause or organization.

She said it felt “really good” to do the first event for Winch.

“It’s cool. I just wish he could see it. He’s touched so many lives.”


Longtime teacher Myles Winch passed away last Sept. 11.

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