L is for Literacy

Cranbrook celebrates Family Literacy Day with recognition for a community literacy champion and students who excel in creative writing

Pictured above: Karen Johnston (centre)

Pictured above: Karen Johnston (centre)

Literacy was the true winner on Monday night when community members, students and families gathered to celebrate Family Literacy Day in Cranbrook.

Organized by the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy (CBAL), the Family Literacy event was held on Monday, Jan. 27 at the Manual Training Centre in Cranbrook.

The evening combined fun events to encourage literacy with recognition for students who entered the Creative Writing Contest, and the awarding of the inaugural Community Literacy Champion.

To her surprise, Daily Townsman publisher Karen Johnston was named 2013’s Community Literacy Champion.

Johnston said she was honoured to receive the award.

“Especially in front of all of the children who did their creative writing projects. It was pretty special because each of those kids got up to receive their certificates. You could see them beaming with pride. They were a very gracious audience when other people win – they were just as excited as I was. I raised it like the Stanley Cup and got cheers from one of the boys.”

CBAL community literacy coordinator Katherine Hough said Johnston was nominated for her work promoting literacy in Cranbrook.

“It was hard. We had some really good nominations, but Karen just stood out,” said Hough, who added that the Community Literacy Advisory Committee was responsible for sorting through the nominations.

Johnston was nominated by Riley Wilcox at the Cranbrook and District Community Foundation.

“Karen is very supportive of the community,” Wilcox wrote in her nomination. “Her energy and enthusiasm are amazing. As publisher of the Daily Townsman, Karen championed the Reach A Reader campaign in our community. This is no surprise as Karen gives selflessly of her time and talent. The region could use more champions like her.”

The Reach A Reader campaign is a collaboration between CBAL and Black Press in the Kootenays to raise awareness for literacy. In two of its four years, the campaign has raised the most money in Cranbrook.

“It’s not just the newspaper spearheading it — it’s also the great people in this community who jump on board and takes that where it needs to be,” said Johnston.

Johnston said that she is inspired to promote literacy because of her own experience learning to read.

“As a child, I struggled as a reader. Truly, it was some of the teachers and organizations that I went through as a child that turned me into love reading,” said Johnston. “It was easy to say I don’t want to read, it’s too difficult, I’m not enjoying it. I was far more interested in being out playing as a child. But it was all of those organizations that really made me realize there was a whole new world out there once you had the ability and the confidence to read. I just want to pay that forward.”

Johnston began her career as proofrunner at the St. Albert Gazette in 1988. During her 15 years at that publication, Johnston progressed to advertising sales manager then marketing manager. She moved to the Red Deer Express as marketing director from 2003 until 2007, when she relocated with her family to Cranbrook to become sales manager at the Daily Townsman. She was promoted to publisher of the Townsman in 2010.

The Townsman and CBAL partnered to launch the Creative Writing Contest this year, in collaboration with School District 5 and the Cranbrook Public Library.

At Monday’s event, students who were nominated by their schools for the entries received certificates and prizes for their work.

Students from Pinewood, TM Roberts, Gordon Terrace, Parkland and Mount Baker all submitted pieces for the contest with a total of 23 submissions.

“It was absolutely wonderful. I was really impressed,” said Hough.

The standout was a 12-chapter book written by Jack Strom, a Grade 5 student at Gordon Terrace.

“That’s the kid who blew everybody away,” said Hough.

Two principals also attended the event to support their students: Karen Giles from Pinewood and Michelle Sartorel from Gordon Terrace.

“What was really neat was to see the parents who were so supportive of the munchkins who came,” added Hough.

The nominations in the Creative Writing Contest will be published in the Daily Townsman over the coming months.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
47 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health region

1,538 total cases, 399 are active, ten in hospital

Item no 22, De-Kieviet Kindergarten class - Highlands, Starting Bid: $20
Christmas Village 2020 school auction items

The annual Christmas Village has gone virtual, here are the auction items from local schools

1913
It happened in 1913

Nov. 22 - 28: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the newspapers at the Cranbrook History Centre and Archives

2020
Urban wildlife Part VI: The East Kootenay birds of autumn

The work of local photographers printed in the pages of the East Kootenay Advertiser throughout 2020. Part VI.

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 65 new cases of COVID-19

Province-wide, there are 887 new cases of the virus

The bids for the 2020 Christmas Village are open as of noon on Thursday, November 26. Please scroll through this album to see auction items available for bidding.
Christmas Village 2020 auction items

The Christmas Village has gone virtual, here are all the details

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

The decision was appealed by both the defence and the Crown

Most Read