Barons kindergarten students get gift of word

 page image
Posted on:

School News

 Justina Klassen looks over one of the dozens of books that Barons School kindergarten students received from their counterparts at Trinity Christian School as part of a service project. 

BARONS – The shiny wrapping paper and pretty bows didn’t stand a chance as Barons School kindergarten students tore into three parcels on the classroom floor.

The packages they were so excited to open didn’t contain the hottest new toy or latest piece of technology, however, but books given to them by fellow kindergarten students at Trinity Christian School. While many students take the written word for granted, the Palliser school offers an alternative program for Low German-speaking Mennonite students in Barons and access to books at home is limited.

“It’s gym time, but they didn’t even mention that,” said teacher Laura Sommerville, as her students remained in their home classroom long after the school bell rang. “They just want to sit and look at all these new books and read them. I love it that they’re coming up to me and saying, ‘my brother had this one from the library,’ or ‘I’ve seen this one before and now we have it!’ ”

The gift of $500 worth of books for the Barons classroom library was the result of a service project by kindergarten students at Trinity Christian in Calgary. Teacher Sandra Heinrichs said the project is in keeping with school values, including community building and thinking of others above self.

“We talked about how we have lots of books and we all love books and we can order books,” she said of the conversation she and fellow teacher Cindy King had with the school’s 40 or so kindergarten students. “But some kids in other places don’t have very many books – especially at home – and it’s not always on the other side of the world, but in Alberta as well.”

Students raised money through extra chores at home or giving up some of their own allowance and then went shopping at a “book store” set up specifically for them. Arrangements were then made so the Trinity students could watch, via Google Hangout, their Barons counterparts opening the gifts they had sent them.

Heinrichs said students were especially excited to see one of the books they had selected being opened on the other end. Kindergarten students  benefit from hands-on learning opportunities where the results of their efforts are very concrete, she said.

“It was very real to them because it’s their age and somebody in Alberta. And they love books so it’s neat that it ties into Palliser’s whole focus on literacy,” said Heinrichs, adding the alternative program at  John Davidson School in Coaldale was the recipient of a similar gift last year.

Barons School Principal Fred Jack said the gesture was not only unexpected but also greatly appreciated.

“It makes you very proud to work for a jurisdiction like ours, where you know you don’t work in silos,” he said. “Needs are recognized and when people see an opportunity to help others, they are quick to do so.”

A literacy-rich environment isn’t commonplace at most of the student’s homes, said Jack, but the school is making progress in that direction.

This year staff initiated a home reading program to emphasize to parents that learning doesn’t just happen between 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day.

Not only will Trinity Christian’s gift increase the size of the Barons library, Sommerville said it will provide age appropriate material for a greater number of her 18 kindergarten students, some of whom didn’t speak of word of English at the start of the school year.

The Barons School kindergarten students will be using their literacy skills to write thank you notes for the generous gift provided by Trinity Christian School. There were also plans to follow up with a discussion of how their class might pay the good deed forward and make a difference in someone else’s life.

Jack said this interaction between the two schools could prove a starting point for a continuing relationship.

“I sure hope so,” he said, pointing to a connection his school of 125 has fostered with the Calgary Islamic School. “With technology and stuff there’s lot of opportunities where we don’t have to pack up a school bus and take a long trip to grow together and learn about each other in a variety of ways.”