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Letter perfect Indigo grant to Osborne Public School

$20,000 literary boost from Love of Reading Grant.
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Caylee Guidinger and principal Dejan Letkeman pose with the $20,000 cheque from Indigo Love of Reading Grant that was recently awarded to Osborne School.

PRINCE ALBERT — Osborne Public School, located just south of Prince Albert, has a diverse community and their efforts to serve that community received a big boost.

Recently, the school announced that Osborne had been selected for a $20,000 Grant from the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation Grant. Osborne School Principal Dejan Letkeman announced students and teachers on Monday.

Letkeman said the school’s changing demographics are what motivated them to apply.

"Osborne, although you wouldn't know it, is an incredibly culturally diverse school,” he explained. “We have a large population of first language Russian speakers, (and) first language Ukrainian speakers who have come over in the last year and a half. We have first-language German speakers, we have Cree speakers and we have students who use ASL, American Sign Language.”

As their student demographic changes, so does the type of reading materials they need. Letkeman said the collection in their library has become dated. The grant will help them keep up with their changing student body.

The grant gives them the ability to update the collection so the students can see themselves and address the literacy needs of the English as an Additional Language (EAL) learners at the school.

“Students will be able to see themselves culturally in the literature collection,” Letkeman said.

He added that there was no real explanation for the shift in demographics for the school, which also includes French speakers.

"It just kind of happened. There is a community out here of Russian speakers as, first language, and we've had several newcomer Ukrainians over the last year and a half. We've had German students join the school. We've had new students who use and are learning ASL.
“I'm not sure what are all of the dynamics behind the making of such an awesome community, but here we are and we love our diversity and we just want to continue to nurture it.”

Their catchment area includes the trailer park area behind the Wholesale Club in Prince Albert to near the 撸奶社区 Saskatchewan River. Letkeman said the school’s diversity also stood out to the Foundation.

"It's a rural school, but not really,” he explained. “It is incredibly diverse and we love our diversity and we just wanted to find ways to address literacy needs in our community. When we made the application for the Indigo grant, that was a major part of the application was addressing our cultural and linguist and linguistic and literacy needs.

“When we first met with them after being selected, they were impressed by just the intentional nature of the application. We have this need. We have this diverse population (and) we want to move the ball forward when it comes to literacy needs. It's really important for us to have our students see themselves in our hallways, in our library, (and) to see their heritage and their backgrounds.”

The afternoon opened with a video in the style of The Office featuring secretary Caylee Guidinger searching for Letkeman with Letkeman playing each staff member to reveal the prize at the end.

“(It’s) just a fun and light-spirited way to announce our being selected for the Indigo Grant and then we'll talk to the kids a little bit about what that means for them and for our school,” Letkeman said.

After the announcement, the students in the Kindergarten to Grade 8 School played Bingo for Books with Guidinger acting as the Bingo Caller and using an online generator for the numbers. Part of the prize for students was being able to make some of the first book selections for their classroom libraries.

Letkeman also addressed the importance of the Grant to the school as it really starts to come into being next school year.  

“There will be a contest next year where some lucky winners will board a bus and we'll head off to Saskatoon to Indigo where they will continue to add to the collection,” he said.

"We want to give them that voice in addition to making sure that the literature we're going to be bringing in addresses our literacy needs and that addresses our desire to have our students see themselves in our collections.”

Along with the $20,000 from the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation, the school will also get 30 per cent off all purchases, which Letkeman estimates will bring the Grant closer to $25,000.

Indigo founded the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation in 2004 and is dedicated to putting books in the hands of children in high-needs elementary schools across Canada.

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