December 15, 2012

Community rallies to make December special at east side Vancouver school #vansunkids

By Janet Steffenhagen

Members of the community have rallied again this year to make December a special month for children at Seymour elementary school on Vancouver’s east side.

The festivities began during the first week of the month with the annual Skate with Santa event and pizza party at Britannia rink, hosted by the CIBC Wood Gundy staff who have been providing Seymour students with hot breakfasts and other important services since 1995.

This week, the students visited nearby Out-to-Lunch Catering for lessons in cookie decorating. Friday, volunteers from CapChurch in North Vancouver brought ingredients for building gingerbread houses into the school for more delicious cooking experiments.

“We’ve had so many amazing offers,” said principal Lani Morden, whose school has been in the spotlight for more than a year since Grade 2-3 teacher Carrie Gelson wrote a stirring letter about the needs of her inner-city students. That letter prompted The Vancouver Sun to launch its Adopt-a-School program, which has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for inner-city schools and is now in its second year.

Grade 5 student Scott Xu, 10, puts the finishing touches on this gingerbread house at Seymour Elementary. (Stuart Davis/Vancouver Sun)

One small example of community caring about the school was the offer this month of not just one Christmas tree, but four. “It’s quite something (the way) people have us in mind,” Morden added.

Other examples of kindness include a Seymour school fundraising event by the Real Estate Board of Vancouver, and visits from a group that calls itself Women of Heart and showered the children with baked goods, presents and crafts.

The fun continues next week when members of the Kiwanis Club of Vancouver visit the school to read to primary students and give three books to each child. Another individual donor has provided money so that every student in the intermediate grades can order a book from Scholastic Canada.

On Wednesday, the children will travel to Sentinel secondary in West Vancouver to watch that school’s holiday concert, have lunch with the high school students and receive a gift. Sentinel teens reached out to the Seymour children last year in response to Gelson’s letter, and Morden said the two schools have developed a special relationship.

The next day, Terminal City Club will provide a holiday lunch and afternoon party for students and staff at Seymour, followed by more gift-giving.

School staff will also be feted with a special Sunday brunch this week, hosted by The French Table bistro, and an appreciation luncheon on Tuesday, thanks to Kabita Catering.

Seymour staff have much to celebrate this month. In addition to Christmas festivities, Seymour’s effervescent headteacher Andrea Wilks has been selected as a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Commemorative Medal in recognition of her “hard work, dedication and ideas” that have helped bring improvements to her community.”

 jsteffenhagen@vancouversun.com

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