An Elmwood school has made a northern connection.
École George V School invited students from Pinaymootang School near Fairford to participate in its Exercise to School Day on May 17. At the event, George V students gave eight bicycles to their guests.
Organizing teacher Robert Schulz had a connection to the area — he taught at Pinaymootang for three years about a decade ago — and he has been at George V for the last four. He said his experience working at the school in a different setting (living in a teacherage) and immersed in a different culture taught him a lot.
"I have a relationship with the staff and the students, and I thought it would be a worthy place," said Schulz, who works in the special education centre. "I saw a lot of learning opportunities, and I’m hoping to take these kids there next year."
Schulz said he took his students to The Wrench (Winnipeg Repair and Education Cycling Hub) last year to learn how to build their own bicycles, and thought he could do more with the experience.
"I could see all the teaching available in the bicycle shop — there’s math, social skills, all kinds of possibilities," he said. "When I saw this year’s group, with the sharp kids that I have this year, I thought ‘let’s teach them humility.’
"(I wanted to) give the kids the idea of building something for a stranger they’d never met before on the whole idea of someday building a relationship."
Students went for four hours every Friday morning for eight weeks to build the bicycles.
Grade 6 student Nathan Johnston drew on sacred Aboriginal teachings when he met the girl who was receiving the bike he worked on.
"At first, I was a little nervous giving it away because you make an attachment with stuff that’s not really living," he said. "Once I met the person, I felt the seven teachings in my heart and I knew it was right to give it to them."
Grade 5 student Katelyn Burns explained she feels the student she met will enjoy the effort she put into it.
"Knowing that you worked really hard to give something away to someone you’ve never met, it makes me feel — it certainly isn’t an everyday feeling," she said. "Meeting the people and seeing how nice they are, you know the bike is going to be in good hands."
In the days after the meeting, the students wrote thank-you letters to their compatriots at Pinaymootang in the hopes they’d hear back and a new friendship would blossom.
As part of Exercise to School Day, CJOB radio personality Fiona Odlum and Olympic curler Jill Officer spoke to students, who then participated in physical activities throughout the day.