Charlottetown school honours former teacher's legacy with community cleanup

·1 min read
Sam Gillis, right, and other students at Birchwood Intermediate remebered Josh Underhay as a 'great teacher' who cared deeply about the environment. (Laura Meader/CBC - image credit)
Sam Gillis, right, and other students at Birchwood Intermediate remebered Josh Underhay as a 'great teacher' who cared deeply about the environment. (Laura Meader/CBC - image credit)

Staff and students of Birchwood Intermediate School in Charlottetown remembered Josh Underhay and his six-year-old son Oliver by holding a community cleanup.

Underhay, 35, and Oliver died on April 19, 2019, in a canoeing accident on the Hillsborough River.

Teacher Krista Connolly, who worked with Underhay when he was also a teacher at the school, said the goal of the cleanup was to make a small difference and recognize his legacy.

"He was an absolute environmental steward, he believed in recycling, reducing, biking to and from work or around the community," Connolly said.

More than 500 staff and students spent part of the afternoon doing the cleanup.
More than 500 staff and students spent part of the afternoon doing the cleanup. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Connolly remembered him always sharing tea with other staff, and arriving at work covered head to toe in mud after biking.

Many talked about the energy he brought to the school and his "forever joyful presence."

"He was always happy," Connolly said.

Ryan Newson, left, and Maia MacLean pick up garbage from a nearby field.
Ryan Newson, left, and Maia MacLean pick up garbage from a nearby field.(Laura Meader/CBC)

She said their deaths are a tragedy, but everyone is trying to move forward and live his legacy.

The current Grade 9 class shared their memories of Underhay, describing him as an enthusiastic teacher who told great stories.

"He had a great relationship with us all," said student Sam Gillis. "He was a great teacher."

Students Kiera Sharpley, Adrian Hann, Ryan Newson, Shay Lewis-Fox and Maia MacLean said Underhay would have appreciated the cleanup.

"It was really important to him, the environment, he always wanted to help the world," MacLean said.

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