Recent Articles in ‘Schools in need’

Douglas Road

Study hails benefits of breakfast program

By GERRY BELLETT A low-cost school breakfast club has had a “significant positive impact on students” and reduced late attendance of participants by 22 per cent, a new study shows. The study, conducted by the SFU Beedie School of Business, was undertaken to assess the effects of The Vancouver Sun’s Adopt-a-School breakfast program on students […]

Douglas Road

Students well-served at Burnaby school: Beedie Development Group support means daily breakfast and lunch once a week

By GERRY BELLETT It’s Friday and lunch day at Burnaby’s Douglas Road Elementary and there’s nothing but joy on the face of principal Mary-Ann Brown as she dishes out the macaroni and cheese to the line of waiting children each holding a plastic container and spoon. “We do this once a week and the kids […]


Hungry children need our help

By GERRY BELLETT Some dangerous childhood conditions can be prevented in seconds: measles, mumps, polio, meningitis, diphtheria. But there’s no inoculation against hunger, no needle in the arm to ward that off. It takes three meals a day to prevent hunger and its companion, misery. Yet for many children living in poverty, three meals in […]


Boston Bar’s only school wants to grow food for hungry kids; Principal hopes to fix up greenhouse to supply fresh produce

By Gerry Bellett Spring has come to the coast but up here in the heart of the Fraser Canyon there’s still a winter’s chill on the wind as Debra Devine, principal of the community’s only school, wrestles with an old, rusty lock guarding a broken-down greenhouse. The building – if she could only fix it […]

Cunningham elementary teachers Jill Lewis, left, and Nikki Short, who both work with autistic children, are seeking more iPads to help the special-needs kids at the east-side school.
Photograph by: Arlen Redekop , Vancouver Sun

Urgent need for tech at east-side school with high number of autistic children

By GERRY BELLETT Bentley Jung pulls up short while explaining how something as simple as the availability of a worn-out laptop had the power to transform his son’s life in school. “I’m sorry but it’s very emotional for me,” he said, remembering the afternoon some weeks ago when his son came home radiant after being […]


Corporate toy run is all about Christmas spirit

By SHELLEY FRALIC Should you be in search of the spirit of Christmas, so often lost in the rush to retail and piles of wrapping paper, look no farther than the delighted face of a youngster receiving an unexpected gift from a not-so-secret Santa. Look no farther than Shania Johnson, who is in Grade 12 […]


SOS saves families from hunger

By GERRY BELLETT It’s called the SOS store and it’s in a locked room in the basement of Norquay Elementary on Slocan Street. And if it looks a little grim with cement block walls and pipes and ducts hanging from the ceiling, and with rows of dusty microscopes stacked in a corner, it’s unlikely that […]


Arming girls with what they need to stay safe

By DAPHNE BRAMHAM Girls were already piling into the gym at the Spectrum Learning Centre before the call went out: “All women warriors to the gym.” A couple of girls were already taping together a patchwork of ratty mats. Soon, after a brief warm-up, they would start flipping and throwing each other to the ground […]


The Vancouver Sun’s Child Poverty Forum hoping for answers

As applications flooded in earlier this year for funding from The Vancouver Sun’s Adopt-A-School campaign, a disturbing picture emerged of child poverty. Amid the applications for iPads, and new playgrounds, and schemes to hire artists or musicians to perform in schools, were requests for breakfast and other food programs and for money to help families […]

Program assistants Vuongmy (L) and Lorraine Holubowich prepare some of the thousands of pounds of food that they give out to families of children attending Strathcona Elementary School.  (Jenelle Schneider/PNG)

Strathcona’s backpack program gets a $30,000 boost #vansunkidsfund

By Gerry Bellett The uninitiated arriving at Strathcona Community Centre on Thursdays would wonder if they had entered the right building, the place being awash in food, knapsacks, and volunteers sorting and packing fruit and vegetables. Community centres host a variety of programs, including those that make you sweat. But none – except here at […]

Teacher Angela Collins serving breakfast at Burnaby's Twelfth Avenue elementary school.  (Jason Payne/ PNG)

Burnaby school tries to beat odds to feed kids #vansunkids

By Gerry Bellett It doesn’t take long for Marilyn Kwok’s voice to falter when she describes just how hopeless it feels, wanting to feed 40 children breakfast with resources that can only manage to feed about five. Simple arithmetic dictates that 35 must go hungry. It’s mathematics colliding with compassion and it brings Kwok – […]

betty huff adopt a school Vancouver Sun0116 bettyHUFF

Sun readers put Surrey family back on its feet after fire #vansunkids

By Gerry Bellett On Tuesday, the following email arrived at The Vancouver Sun’s Adopt-a-School website from Susan McCuaig, principal of Betty Huff elementary, a school located in Surrey’s troubled north end. “ … We have many vulnerable families in our community and one endured a fire in their apartment Monday and they have no insurance. […]

Morey elementary school grade 7 student Beatrice Kasara plays a guitar donated by Best Buy, as grade 5 student Sami Agosom, pricipal Hal Wall and Best Buy community relations manager Victoria Foley listen in, at the Burnaby, BC school Friday, December 16, 2011. Photograph by: Jason Payne, PNG

Schools in need: Morley Elementary is a safe haven for refugee kids

“Compassion before curriculum” is never likely to make it as a school motto given what the institution of education is all about. But it might well describe Burnaby’s Morley elementary. Morley’s a school – the big sign outside says so – but for the 30 or so refugee kids enrolled there it’s a haven first. […]

Brenda Ramirez and her six-month old baby Natalia. Photograph by: Ian Lindsay, Vancouver Sun

Schools in Need: CABE looks after teen mothers and their children

For many Grade 12 students, graduation year is a hectic but fabled time of anticipation and excitement as the world beyond the classroom waits. But for Vanessa Ellingson — the head and breadwinner of a family of three — the thought of leaving the security of Coquitlam’s smallest secondary school fills her with dread. “I’m […]

Joan Storlund, vice-principal at Sir William Macdonald elementary with students Angela Ned (left) and Charlotte La Rochelle. Photograph by: Glenn Baglo, Vancouver Sun

Schools in need: Sir William Macdonald elementary faces special challenges

A new iPad is a coveted Christmas gift for many kids. But for the students at Sir William Macdonald elementary, it can be the difference between learning to read, or not. There are only 80 students at the small school at Victoria and Hastings, but a large percentage have been diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome. […]

Genevieve Anthony of DAREarts works with children at Queen Alexandra elementary school in Vancouver. Photograph by: Wayne Leidenfrost, Vancouver Sun

Schools in need: Fine arts school needs a music teacher… and food, and winter coats

When the Vancouver school board bowed to community pressure and spared Queen Alexandra elementary from closure last year, the school was saved in part by being designated a fine-arts school. But the new label for the inner-city school, located at the busy intersection of Broadway and Clark, didn’t come with any funding for an enriched-arts […]

For many children attending Vancouver’s oldest elementary school in the city’s poorest district, field trips are not a likely option. Photograph by: NICK PROCAYLO, PNG

Schools in need: Camp, field trips out of the question for Lord Strathcona students

Stand at the entrance of Lord Strathcona elementary in the heart of the Downtown Eastside and look north: There is Grouse Mountain in all its glory — an enormous self-proclaiming advertisement for urban entertainment and middle-class self-indulgence. However, for many children attending Vancouver’s oldest elementary school in the city’s poorest district, that magnificent sight is […]

Surrey youth worker Dynell Forman runs a lunch program for students in need at Kwantlen Park secondary in Whalley. Photograph by: Ward Perrin, PNG

Schools in need: 150 students in Whalley’s Kwantlen Park Secondary need help with food, clothes, housing

The need is quickly apparent at the inner-city school of Kwantlen Park secondary in Whalley. Five minutes into a conversation between a school youth worker and a reporter, a teenager is seen crying in the cafeteria and needs consoling. A hungry student pops by to ask if she can get her free lunch – possibly […]

Harry Sandhu, Surrey school district’s safe school liaison, says many Georges Vanier parents struggle to get their kids ready on time. Photograph by: Ward Perrin, Vancouver Sun

Schools in need: Surrey breakfast program feeding hungry students, keeping them in school

“A six-year-old that’s hungry is not a pretty picture.” Pat Horstead’s observation, which creates the disturbing image of childhood cuteness distorted by want, came Wednesday in a small cupboard of an office in Surrey’s Georges Vanier elementary in the heart of Whalley. Horstead, an assistant superintendent for Surrey School District, was explaining why the district […]

Mary-Ann and Alex Currie have responded to the Adopt-a-School initiative with a $1,500 donation to Thunderbird elementary. Photograph by: Ian Lindsay, PNG

Problem solved: Thunderbird Elementary principal overwhelmed by response

Thunderbird elementary school principal Henry Peters was overwhelmed by the response to an appeal Monday for help for his inner-city school where many children come to class hungry. “The response has been fantastic,” said Peters, who Tuesday was trying to return phone calls and reply to emails offering assistance. Thunderbird, in East Vancouver, was featured […]

L-R. Karen Maher, a special needs resource teacher, watches as student Yassin Dahhou uses an iPad at Lord Roberts Elementary school, Vancouver November 28 2011. The interactive tool can replace pull out cards and picture books like those in the photo's foreground. (Gerry Kahrmann / PNG Staff Photo)

Update: Lord Roberts gets $16,000 towards technology to help unlock learning in autistic kids

UPDATE: Since this story was published, Lord Roberts has been inundated with donations. We’re told 42 iPads have been purchased or donated, with 12 of those going to special needs classes. If you have plans to donate iPads or money, please consider other schools in need at Lord Roberts was a British military commander of […]

Teacher Janey Lee and principal Henry Peters with students (from left) Thonas Isberg, Tanya Johal, William Dobbie, Selina Liu, Farhiya Mohamed and Van Duh Hmong at Thunderbird elementary.

School in need: Thunderbird Elementary goes above and beyond with food and laundry

When Henry Peters and Janey Lee graduated, there was nothing in the fine print on their teaching certificates that mentioned having to be semi-professional fundraisers or part-time social workers. Teachers teach, social workers care for a community’s welfare, and mendicant friars with begging bowls have long since been replaced by slick TV hosts and prime-time […]

VANCOUVER, B.C.: NOVEMBER 22, 2011 -- Cafeteria teacher Ignazia Nancy Boucher prepares breakfast, November 22nd, for the students at Vancouver's Grandview Elementary school. The school is part of the Breakfast for Learning program and feeds children every morning before class.  (Ward Perrin / PNG)

Corporate commitment to charities helps students eat healthy breakfast

The lineup of children at Grandview elementary school began early Tuesday morning, as the first whiff of grilled cheese drifted through the gymnasium. It was a day like any other, with several dozen students from kindergarten to Grade 7 watching hungrily as cafeteria worker Ignazia (Nancy) Boucher flipped sandwiches on the grill and set out […]

Elliott Chun and Andrea Farnell of Future Shop surprise Brittania Secondary School teacher with new computers for the Homework Club that they run at the school on Thursday, 24, 2011. (photo by Jenelle Schneider/PNG)

Problem solved: Homework Club lands local benefactor and new computers

On Thursday morning, The Vancouver Sun’s Adopt-a-School appeal described the sad plight of Britannia secondary school’s Homework Club. The club, which encourages students from the poorest areas of Vancouver to carry on to college or university, was limping along with worn-out, ancient computers and facing a financial shortfall since the death of a donor who […]

Lisa Werring of Breakfast for Learning helps prepare breakfast, November 22nd, for the students at Vancouver's Grandview Elementary school. The school is part of the Breakfast for Learning program.

Opinion: Schools forced to feed bodies and minds – and nurture and dress them too

Earlier this week, we received an email from a school principal. It was one of many we’ve received from schools this week, and this particular school, outside of Vancouver, was in a middle-class neighbourhood. Here is what the principal wrote: “One of our families lives in the nearby co-op housing development — two children who […]

Christina Wong, 17, gets some Grade 12 math help from SFU tutor Moses To, 18, at Britannia secondary school Monday as part of the Homework Club, which is in danger of shutting.

School in need: Britannia Secondary Homework Club needs donors to survive

It’s nothing more than an act of faith when Kim Leary looks around the financially faltering Homework Club – in full swing Monday night at Britannia secondary school – and imagines somehow it will all survive. That somehow is the refuge of every desperate optimist and dreamer but Leary, a teacher at Britannia and the […]

A student at Sir John Franklin Elementary

School in need: Sir John Franklin Community School

Sir John Franklin Community School, in partnership with parents of the community, enables and inspires individuals to discover and develop their full potential as life-long learners in an inclusive, nurturing and supportive environment. Immediate Needs: We strongly believe that the library should be the heart of the school and with your help, we can transform […]


From bombs to books; Indomitable spirit of ESL students inspired principal to write book

By Janet Steffenhagen From the outside, Edmonds community school looks like an ordinary neighbourhood school. But inside, it is a microcosm. Four out of five students were born outside Canada, more than half are learning English as a second language (ESL) and a third are refugees from countries such as Afghanistan, Sudan, Congo, Iraq and […]

Kids from Britannia Secondary in Vancouver

Schools in need: Britannia Secondary in Vancouver

This amazing program at Britannia Secondary supports the academic, social/emotional and financial needs of inner-city youth struggling to graduate and move on to post-secondary success. Three nights a week – M, T, Th – you will find between 30 and 60 students gathered in the Homework Club to receive free tutoring from volunteers from UBC, […]

The teachers and kids of Lord Strathcona Elementary

Schools in need: Lord Strathcona Elementary in Vancouver

  In the heart of Vancouver’s Chinatown, Lord Strathcona Community School is Vancouver’s oldest elementary school as it was founded in 1891. Strathcona has a population of over 575 students who attend school in beautiful heritage buildings. Strathcona is located in the heart of Vancouver’s downtown Eastside and has a rich cultural history and a […]

When inner-city school teacher Carrie Gelson put out her heart-wrenching notice in September that her students at Admiral Seymour elementary in Vancouver were arriving at school hungry and in need of warm clothing, she touched a nerve with Vancouver Sun readers, who responded by generously donating goods and funds to the school.

A teacher asked, and local residents responded: Seymour Elementary smothered in help

Donations began landing at Seymour elementary school in Vancouver early Monday and continued throughout the day, as residents opened their hearts and wallets in response to a plea for help from a teacher on behalf of her disadvantaged eastside students. “I didn’t really expect this,” said Carrie Gelson, breathless after a whirlwind of media interviews […]

Thunderbird elementary school teacher Janey Lee made an impassioned plea for funds to complete the school’s playground, at a recent School Forum. The playground is referred to as the ‘mud-pit’ as it is empty except for a few large rocks and some benches.

Sustainable funding, holistic approach critical at inner-city schools: community panel

Vancouver schoolteacher Carrie Gelson touched a chord and sparked a conversation with her September letter to Vancouver residents that drew attention to the plight of inner-city schools. That conversation continued at Vancouver Public Library Monday evening, where a panel of teachers, health and community workers discussed the challenges of educating children in poorer neighbourhoods. Janey […]

Students from Seymour elementary visit the live taping and meet cast members Matreya Fedor (C) and Gig Morton (R) from the locally produced show Mr. Young on Friday, Nov. 4, 2011 in Burnaby, B.C.

Seymour Elementary students witness the magic of Mr Young’s generosity

It’s difficult for Scott Xu to articulate what he loves most about his favourite television show, Mr. Young, but watching the Vancouver nine-year-old try is priceless. “I like it because it’s cool and it’s not boring,” said a smiling Xu, who spun in circles of excitement outside Seymour elementary school before boarding a bus to […]