Reading University grads

By Lori Larsen

Reading University graduate Roman Rempel-Wall received his Certificate of Achievement from teacher Coleman Miller.

On July 29 at 11 a.m., 40 young graduates of Reading University (Camrose campus) received their Certificates of Achievement in a ceremony held at École Camrose Composite High School. Family, friends, guests and teaching staff joined the students in celebration of their success.

The Reading University four-week summer program is a community leadership initiative of the Battle River Community Foundation (BRCF), intended to increase the literacy skills of children in Grades 2 and 3 who are not yet reading at grade level.

Partnering with BRCF was Battle River School Division (BRSD) and generous financial donors, all with a collective goal to provide the students identified as needing some extra help, to bring their reading up to grade level with this wonderful opportunity.

Throughout the month of July, Reading University students received one-on-one teaching from BRSD teachers Coleman Miller, Sydney Cava, Jessica Ng and Laureen Sandin and were also given opportunities to take part in fun and educational field trips and excursions aimed at broadening the student’s experience and enhancing 
learning.

On behalf of Battle River Community Foundation, BRCF ambassador emeritus Blain Fowler thanked the partners, donors, teachers and parents for helping to provide this crucial opportunity for these 
students.

“Your attendance indicates strong support for our mission of strengthening the literacy skills of our youth,” remarked Fowler.

In explaining the three-step process of Reading University, Fowler said the first step was to identify the need.

“Studies revealed that in the first three grades, students learn to read. In subsequent years, and for the rest of their lives, they read to learn.”

He went on to explain that Grade Three is a cross-roads for students and that if they are not reading near grade level by that time,  they begin to fall further and further behind, and by grade five or six, they are so far behind, they may never catch up. “Our goal from the beginning (2009 when Reading University began in the Battle River area) was to reverse this 
situation.

“The second step is to determine the best people and organizations to deal with the need.”

The role of Battle River School Division is to invite appropriate students to participate in the program; design the educational program; recruit and pay staff; provide classroom space, transportation and nutritious meals and snacks.

The final step of the process involves the delivery of financial support.

“The cost of providing the Reading University experience is almost $2,000 per student, or $100 per day per student,” which Fowler said is provided entirely by BRCF.

“We raise our share with the help of generous donors and supportive members of the local community. Their contributions cover the salaries of the teaching staff, the cost of meals, field trips, classroom supplies and items such as backpacks, T-shirts for students, as well as a selection of books students can take home to keep.”

After each student was presented with their certificate, everyone was invited to congratulate the students and enjoy a piece of cake.

In an effort to ensure students wishing to participate in Reading University, who may not otherwise have been able to attend an in-person classroom setting, the organizers of Reading University offered a virtual format. The material was presented by BRSD teacher Hailey Ortman in a digital format. The 20 students participating through this format also took part in virtual field trips and a graduation ceremony was held via Zoom on July 27.

For more information on the Reading University program, visit the Battle River Community Foundation website at www.brcf.ca/reading_university.html.