The Rainy River District School Board’s annual literacy celebration showed some growth last week, with increased turnout at the Fort Frances event as well as strong support at the other three locations.
“Families Learning Together,” designed to partner parents and educators in the common goal of increasing student success, took place last Thursday evening at J.W. Walker (Fort Frances), Donald Young School (Emo), Riverview (Rainy River), and North Star (Atikokan).
“We had wonderful comments,” said J.W. Walker principal Bill Daley. “I had many parents come up and thank us for having it.”
Though attendance numbers were not high in Fort Frances (about 40 people came out to the event at Walker), they were higher than last year’s.
“Like anything, you build on it,” Daley noted.
Emo saw a significant increase in attendance this year—from 19 people to about 45. Riverview, meanwhile, saw a slight drop but still had strong support with about 90 people on hand there.
“We were pleased,” said Riverview teacher Amanda Lowes, who sat on the organizing committee.
Each event began with a keynote speaker or performer.
In Rainy River, children’s musician Aaron Burnett, a 2002 Juno Award nominee, travelled from Winnipeg to perform.
In Fort Frances, award-winning children’s author Mary Casanova, of Ranier, Mn., gave a presentation of her book “One Dog Canoe,” as well as a sneak peak at her book “Some Dog” (to be published in 2008).
“It’s a nice treat,” Daley said of the chance to see a work not yet in print.
Casanova was available before and after her presentation to talk to her readers, both young and old, and to sign autographs.
Daley said the school is hoping to have Casanova come back to talk to teachers about writing.
“I think she has lots to share,” he noted.
Following the presentation, parents were invited to attend a number of workshops—each aimed at different age groups from pre-school to Grade 8.
Community partners also had booths set up throughout the evening for people to gather information, including the Northwestern Health Unit, the Fort Frances Fire Department, Family and Children’s Services, and the Fort Frances Children’s Complex.
Volunteers also provided a chili supper for participants.
“The committee worked hard to set it up,” Daley said.
Last year’s inaugural event was held in on a Saturday in April at Robert Moore School.
Heather Campbell, the board’s superintendent of education, said the board would compare participation at both events to determine the best time to hold the next one.