Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Sweet treats and books to read at syrupy event

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Hey look, that big kid making pancakes is from the neighbourhood!

And that high schooler carrying in books for us, she's my cousin.

They're, like, super smart, and they're so totally into reading -- you don't suppose...

And so goes the thinking behind Thursday's annual super-syrupy event at Brooklands School, in which grads of the K-5 school, now at St. James Collegiate, return to make pancakes, read and present gifts of books.

We're talking lots of syrup, plus fruit and juice.

Brooklands is classified as an inner-city school. It's a community in which many kids have parents who didn't finish high school, said principal Rex Ferguson-Baird, who taught at the collegiate when the idea of linking the two schools was devised 12 years ago.

"We do it every February to encourage them to keep reading," said SJC Grade 11 student and Brooklands alum Patricia Bulos.

Back in the day, when she was a Brooklands student, Bulos recalled, "We'd have a breakfast of pancakes. The big kids would serve breakfast to us and then we'd get a book."

Said Grade 10 student Monica Sarreal: "It feels good to give back."

Collegiate information communications technology and former Brooklands teacher Adam Lister -- yes, Mr. Lister -- said the students start organizing the event in September as a United Way Youth Connections project. "These were my students when I taught here," said Lister, surveying the busy, mature teens in the kitchen and buffet line who were once little kids at Brooklands.

"I like it because the community is joining together," said Grade 5 student Efrel Cabaguio between bites.

After breakfast and reading sessions, Efrel and his fellow students each received a book.

"I love to read non-fiction, science," he said. As for the pancakes, "They're yummy and delicious."

Ferguson-Baird said it gives the SJC students "an opportunity to see the impact they have as role models. (The Brooklands students) say, 'those kids are from my neighbourhood.' It gives them a path to education."

Brooklands literacy support teacher Kim Johnston-Rempel said teachers work with students to find books appropriate for their reading level, that they'll enjoy. Local seniors are also invited to chow down and to read.

Sarreal and Bulos said the 20 collegiate students spend a lot of time in February looking for the best deals on pancake batter, syrup, fruit and drinks. The books come from Scholastic.

No, they didn't have a lot of experience making pancakes, the two students laughed, and definitely, no one in the kitchen was trying to flip pancakes in the pan.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 1, 2013 B2

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