Each year our Rotary club picks an elementary school in Cambridge to partner with on a literacy project. This year’s partnership was with Hillcrest Public School which backs onto a beautiful woodlot in a residential area of Hespeler.


We kicked things off with the Rotary Reading Challenge which ran from Monday, April 18th until Sunday, April 24th. The student who read the most minutes during the week for each grade would receive a prize donated by our Rotary club. Principal Anna Aagaard’s goal was to have all students participate in the reading challenge.




The following week was Guest Reader Week (April 26-29). We really enjoyed coming in and reading to the students. The kids were great and we were made to feel very welcome by everyone in the school community.

We held our regular Rotary meeting at Hillcrest Public School on May 6th followed by a special Recognition Ceremony following the morning announcements. It was great to have a few of the staff join us for our Rotary meeting.

At the Recognition Ceremony, our special guest author, Marsha Skrypuch, read an excerpt from her book Call Me Aram. The book set in 1923 is based on historical fact. Aram, like his fellow orphaned Armenian refugees, is delighted with his new home on a farm in Georgetown, Ontario. The boys find things such as porridge very strange and fight to keep their old names instead of their new English names.

We then presented $25 Chapters gift cards and certificates of achievement to the Grade 1-6 winners of the Reading Challenge and a complete set of Brady Brady books signed by the illustrator, Chuck Temple to the JK/SK winner. Grade 6 winner, Mercedes Azzoparde, read for an amazing 22 hours 30 minutes during the week. The kids burst into spontaneous applause when we presented a large symbolic cheque for our $1,000 donation to the school library.

This is what Principal Anna Aagaard had to say following this year’s literacy project.

Hillcrest Public School has greatly benefited from the Rotary Reading Challenge. This literacy partnership provided a wonderful means of emphasizing the importance of reading throughout our school and school community. Our students plunged happily into reading at home and completing their reading logs each day of the Challenge. Their parents were thrilled to sign off on the logs, knowing how worthwhile the activity was for their children. Parents wrote comments such as, "Wow!", "Awesome!", "Good Job!", "Great Work!", "Way to Go", and "Excellent Job!" on their children’s reading logs.

The guest readers from the Rotary Club were delightful and they engaged and inspired our students in the joy of reading. The role modeling for the importance of life-long reading was also invaluable. Our students were enchanted by the enthusiasm the guest readers put into their readings!

The Celebration Assembly, along with the commentary and reading by Guest Author Marsha Skrypuch, was fabulous! We were all thrilled to have so many members of the Sunrise Rotary Club present at the assembly. Marsha's honest comments about overcoming her own struggles with reading and then becoming an award-winning author were truly inspiring for all of us, as was her reading of a selection from her historical novel, 'Call Me Aram'. I can't think of a better way to highlight the importance and joy of reading! Our student winners also loved the $25 Chapters gift cards and the special prize of Brady Brady books.

Finally, all of us at Hillcrest are incredibly grateful for the generous donation of $1000 towards purchasing books for our school library. We have proudly placed the large symbolic cheque in our front hall, and our students look forward to many happy hours of reading in the future! A tremendous thank you to organizer Mark Rozad and the Sunrise Rotary Club of Cambridge for selecting Hillcrest Public School this year. It has been a wonderful venture for all of us!