Last Thursday was a busy day at Granite Ridge Education Centre.
First, about 400 students and staff participated in the annual Terry Fox Run, raising $2,000.10, which was just shy of doubling the 2017 total by $100. But merely by beating the previous year’s total kicked in a special challenge, whereby the senior class would pull a school bus while the student body cheered them on.
Organizer Cathy Reynolds said she was looking through some ideas other schools had done and liked the concept.
“And Steve Dunham (Dunham Transportation) was on board with it,” she said. “He usually is and just said ‘what time do you want me?’”
Reynolds said she’d like to see a “big challenge” become a regular thing for the annual Fox Run.
“I’d really like it,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be pulling a bus but every year, you get a new group of senior students, so maybe they can come up with their own ideas.
“It’s encouraging to see all of the students out there cheering them on.”
To cap off the Fox events, the school had a dozen teachers and students shave their legs from the knees down and the photos went on Instagram with the hashtag #grecbeliketerry.
“We received more than 50 posts,” she said.
And as if the Terry Fox activities weren’t enough, the school also held an Orange Shirt Day, during which staff and students wore orange shirts as part of the ongoing effort towards reconciliation with First Nations over the Residential Schools System.
The orange shirt became a symbol for the reconciliation movement after former student Phyllis Webstad told her story of her first day at Residential School, when, as a six-year-old girl, the brand new orange shirt her grandmother had bought her was taken away from her.
“We had a kick-off assembly in the last period and Algonquian elder Danka Brewer spoke,” said organizer Lorraine Ryan. “Last year, we did some things informally but this was the first time we held a formal event.”
They got T-shirts for the staff and students were encouraged to wear orange. For those that didn’t have an orange shirt, Valerie Allan’s Native Studies class made little orange cardboard shirts for students to pin to their regular shirts.
Ryan, who took special classes in Native Studies at Queen’s University last year, said she’s learned a lot about First Nations history in the last little while.
“There’s a new focus with an Indigenous English Class,” she said. “I needed a lot of help from elders like Danka, John Davis and Tim Yearington.
“The goal is reconciliation and education — the school classroom is key.”
She said a goal for the school is an outdoor classroom with a talking circle.