BURNABY—Two small Catholic schools are celebrating a big victory after tying for first place in the annual CISVA Elementary Track and Field Meet at Swangard Stadium.

St. Catherine’s and St. Joseph the Worker both placed first in the small schools category. For St. Catherine’s it was the second time in three years the Langley school has come out on top.

“For a small school of only 220 kids, it shows an awesome spirit among the kids and the parents and staff,” said interim principal Wendell MacCormack.  “It’s very big for a small school to do so well.”

“Just as it takes a whole community to raise a child, it takes a whole community to win a championship,” said MacCormack.

St. Joseph the Worker school was equally thrilled to come in first. “It’s always nice when the kids come through with their potential,” said Tom Gerard, physical education teacher for the last 25 years. “You definitely feel the energy, excitement, and comradery.”

St. Joseph the Worker has an impressive track record at CISVA track meets, winning seven times in the small schools category since 2008.

Fraser began working at the school in 2009 and said by 2010 he was getting calls asking for the secret to their success.

Meanwhile, Sacred Heart and St. Helen’s are also celebrating, taking first and second place overall, respectively, in the CISVA competition.

It was a great community builder. — Waldemar Sambor.

“It was a great community builder,” said Waldemar Sambor, principal of St. Helen’s. The Burnaby school finished only nine points behind Sacred Heart in Ladner.

It’s been about 10 years since St. Helen’s came in second, he said, and more than 20 years since coming first. This year, his school beat meet records in the relay and 1,500-metre races.

Sambor believes the track meet is one of the biggest of its kind in Canada, with about 2,500 students from 38 schools participating in two days of running, jumping, and throwing.

With hundreds of teachers, principals, parents, and community members volunteering or cheering from the sidelines, Holy Cross elementary principal Dino Alberti estimated 5,000 people joined in the excitement at Swangard.

The event, which began in 1944 under the sponsorship of the Knights of Columbus, grows every year, said Alberti, adding there aren’t many opportunities for athletes, especially in elementary school, to compete in front of 5,000 spectators.

Gerard hopes the victory for his students translates into success in other aspects of their lives.

“It’s only meaningful if the kids can retain the things we want them to and what got them there, whether it’s the hard work or the enthusiasm or the teamwork. If they can retain those things and apply them in other things they do, that’s a lasting meaningfulness.”