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Gordon Terrace students wow education ministerPosted: January 30, 2012

Gordon Terrace Elementary School Grade 5 student Sydney Mcdonald reads to Minister of Education George Abbott.

B.C. Minister of Education George Abbott was wowed by young students at Gordon Terrace Elementary School during a special visit Friday (Jan. 27).

In Cranbrook to take in several school tours and meetings with regional education officials, Abbott also seized the day to take part in a Family Literacy Day reading event at the Cranbrook school.

Along with East Kootenay MLA Bill Bennett, and Rocky Mountain School District officials, Abbott spent time meeting and reading to students.

Prior to joining students and parents for lunch and cake, Abbott listened to Grade 5 student Sydney Mcdonald read, having to help her only once.

Click on photos to enlarge...

“Galvanizing – that it a big word,” he said, telling her what the words means.

“She’s a very good reader. Sydney is clearly reading beyond the Grade 5 level,” he said, before later expressing his delight in what he was seeing and hearing at the school.

“I love the reading program here. It’s one of the best in the province. The southeast school district is a really strong performer in the province,” he told e-KNOW. “I’m very impressed with what I am seeing here. They are building the skills very early; which is important to do.”

Gordon Terrace librarian Mrs. Cook informed Abbott that “we read and eat” each lunch at the school, before he spoke with the packed library audience.

“I’ve always loved books,” he said. “As I look back on my life, as my kids grew up, one of the most special times of the day was just before they went to be; we always had story time.”

Nine months ago Abbott became a grand-parent for the first time. “And now I get to experience that special magic all over again, without having to change diapers,” he stated.

Then the education minister performed a snippet from rapper Julian Smith’s ‘I’m Reading A Book’ to the delight of the Grade 1 to 3 students in the library, and surprise to the adults.

“There’s nothing more magical than being able to read but also to be able to write,” he said before picking up a copy of Express Yourself! – a book of 30 stories written  by B.C. school children from a contest co-sponsored by the Ministry of Education and the British Columbia Library Association called Express Yourself: The B.C. Kids Writing Contest.

Abbott read ‘Maxwell the Book Loving Mouse and The Monster in the Attic to the children, stopping between stories to express his love of reading.

“Have any of you been lost in books?” he asked.

Many small arms shot skyward.

“I love to get lost in books, too,” he said, sharing a story of being in Nicaragua for 25 days over the Christmas holidays and reading a dozen books in that time.

“My wife was ready to kill me because I really get lost in books,” he laughed.

At that, he handed the book to Bennett for a story, who selected Journey of a Wolf Pup to the students.

“I used to read stories to my two boys,” he said, and he also enjoyed telling them stories around the campfire when camping.

In closing, Abbott told the children that “literacy is a very big word but it means fun” and urged them all to continue reading as they grow up.

“Every time you grab a different book you will have a different adventure,” he said.

“Reading and writing are fundamental life skills, and I’m really encouraged by the dedication and success of these young writers. Parents play an integral role in bringing literacy into their children’s lives. From reading a story every night before bed to having your kids write out a grocery list, I encourage all parents to find ways to make literacy a part of their family routine,” he stated.

“Whether in the Kootenays or the Lower Mainland, what’s most important about Family Literacy Day is celebrating how the simple but profound act of reading empowers people. Teaching children this invaluable skill increases their confidence, helps them understand the complex world they live in, and opens up countless opportunities for them,” Bennett added.

Ian Cobb/e-KNOW

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