Two Cobourg schools get board kudos

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Mar 6, 2012 in Rat News | Subscribe

By CECILIA NASMITH Northumberland Today

Posted 5 hours ago

COBOURG — The Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District Board of Education saluted two Cobourg schools at its February meeting for their efforts to bring awareness to students on a variety of fronts.

St. Joseph Elementary School recently welcomed Tommy and Melanie Wendling of Manotick (near Ottawa), along with their two pet rats.

Now 9, Tommy was a senior kindergarden student when he came home one day and announced he wanted to write a book. With the help of his mother Nathalie, he worked on it for two years.

Tommy was inspired by the teasing his older sister Melanie had to endure due to the effects of Cornelia de Lange Syndrome and the dozen operations it involved. It is a rare condition, affecting only about 100 Canadians, and Tommy wanted to raise awareness.

The adventures he devised for Tommy and Melanie and their pet rats inspired his mother to self-publish their book Tommy and Melanie Have Two Pet Rats and One Syndrome. In a special section at the end, there is more information on Cornelia de Lange Syndrome.

Tommy gave a reading to the St. Joseph students, showed a video of his rats doing tricks and stayed to answer questions.

The students learned that 6,300 copies of the book have been sold to date, and that popcorn and apple jelly help Tommy train his rats.

Asked if there was a message he waned to leave with everyone, he said, “If you see someone who looks different, smile and say, ‘Hi.’”

St. Mary Secondary School’s Social Science/Canada World Studies department came in for a tip of the hat for its focus on enhanced student learning. For example, Grade 10 history students visited the Holocaust Education Centre in Toronto and heard a presentation by a survivor of the Majdanek Nazi death camp.

An actor visited the school to perform a dramatic monologue based on the life and times of a Canadian infantryman in the First World War.

A small group of students were able to travel to Peterborough to hear the Honourable Justin Trudeau speak about the power of youth and their ability to effect positive change. And students in both the Native Studies and Anthropology sectors have had the benefit of a number of guest speakers and field trips.

As a new semester begins, the board heard, many of the same opportunities will be made available to new students.

“It is important that students be exposed to these types of experiences, because it allows them to make real-life connections to the curriculum that may otherwise be more difficult to truly comprehend,” curriculum chair Jason Roberts.

cnasmith@northumberlandtoday.com

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