Posted on August 1, 2012 by Tia Lalani

Dean Berger presented certificates to 49 students at the fourth Reading University commencement on July 27.

Dan Jensen, Camrose Booster

University of Alberta Augustana Campus dean Dr. Allen Berger presented certificates of achievement to forty-nine Grades 1 and 2 students at the commencement exercises of the fourth Reading University program July 27.

Berger congratulated the students on a job well done.

“I hope you have discovered that school work can be fun and that reading especially can be lots of fun.

Dr. Berger said that, in reading, while curled up in a chair or outside under a tree, he has discovered he is never really all by himself.

“In books I meet all kinds of interesting people – people from the past or from the future, people from places near and from places far away. Real people and totally imaginary people. People who think like me and people whose ideas and beliefs and experiences are very different from mine.”

Dr. Berger also said that, when he is in reading, he is never just in one place.

“Reading takes me everywhere, literally all over the world, at least in my imagination. I’m also always learning new things – learning for example about dinosaurs, far-away planets and stars, about computers, about different religions, even about how to cook a fancy Italian or Greek meal.”

Dr. Berger told the students that by becoming better readers and by learning to enjoy reading, they are starting a journey in which they can dream any dream and eventually become anything they want to be. He expressed the hope that in ten or eleven or twelve years they will come back to Augustana as a student to study for a university degree.

“One thing I know for sure, you can do it. You have proven to all of us and I hope also to yourself that you are smart. You are talented. You belong at a place like Augustana.”

Offered by the Battle River Community Foundation, Battle River School Division and Augustana, Reading University is a four-week summer reading program intended to increase the literacy skills of children in Grades 1 and 2 from schools in Camrose and Tofield who are not yet reading at grade level, so that they may succeed in school and beyond. The program’s three stakeholders, along with their supporters, believe that in order to meet the challenges of the changing world, students need to be literate. They also know that literacy is more than reading, writing and basic sums – that it enables people to learn and comprehend, think critically, solve problems, share information and interact with others.

“In the Battle River School Division we consider it our role to provide the programs and services each student requires in order to fulfill their potential,” said Battle River School Division deputy superintendent Ray Bosh. “We truly believe in our vision, Every Student, Every Day A Success.”

Reading University’s themes for 2012 were supported by games, skits, computer research,  and field trips. The program was designed to be interesting, engaging and fun – to help the students not only embrace their skills but also become more excited about learning. Teaching space was provided by Augustana in Camrose and at C.W. Sears School in Tofield.

Bosh expressed appreciation to the BRSD teachers, educational assistants and bus drivers for their dedication and outstanding effort in making the Reading University program possible.

“Your offer to work during the month of July is appreciated.”

Dr. Berger said Reading University is truly a special program, one where parents, generous community members, the Battle River School Division and the university all come together to make a lasting difference in the lives of young people.

“To all of you who are family members of our students, Reading University staff, or program volunteers, I offer my heartfelt thanks. You clearly know how important literacy is as a foundation for lifelong learning, for career success, for personal satisfaction, and for building a meaningful life. And you clearly also know how essential it is to develop joyful, excited learners in the early elementary grades.”

Reading University was developed as a leadership initiative by the Battle River Community Foundation.

“The process we use is, first, identifying need, and secondly, determining the best people and organizations to deal with the need,” said BRCF board chair Blain Fowler. “Once that is done BRCF delivers the support.”

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