$20,000 grant in the books for Prairie River

Prairie River Junior High School in High Prairie received a $20,000 Literacy Fund Grant from the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation over three years. Sitting in the front row, left-right, are principal Paula Taylor and vice-principal Kienan Wilson. Standing in the back row, left-right, are librarian Jennifer Villebrun and educational assistant Tanya Prpich. The grant will allow staff to greatly enhance the library’s collection.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Big bucks are in the books for a High Prairie school to upgrade its library and literary resources.

Prairie River Junior High School was awarded a $20,000 Literacy Fund Grant from the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation over three years, principal Paula Taylor says.

“It’s a huge help to our students,” she says.

“We have been able to replace outdated novels and we’ve brought in whole series of novels by specific authors.”

She commends school librarian Jennifer Ville- brun for her leadership to search and secure the grant.

“We were incredibly honoured to be selected for this grant as there were many worthy applicants,” says Ville- brun, librarian at the school since March 2019.

“Partnering with Indigo has allowed us to bring some great additions to our library.”

She says the grant has a goal to support students in high-needs communities.

Applications included a written component that identified the school’s needs and a video created by the school. The video was filmed by a Grade 9 student Avory Okemow during the 2019-20 year. Students and staff shared personal comments about what the grant would mean to Prairie River.

A small percentage of the grant is available to improve the school library and host literacy events. The remainder is to buy new books.

“We were contacted in early October and were advised that we were one of the selected recipients,” Villebrun says.

Indigo made its official public announcements June 15.

The original notification date was delayed due to COVID, Villebrun says.

She adds Indigo is a good literacy partner.

“Indigo has been working with us. . .to set up our fund, provide support in ordering and helping curate book lists that reflect topics of interest to our students.”

She says the grant supports one of the school’s goals.

“Improving student literacy is a priority and our students are always looking for new books,” Villebrun says.

“Many of our books are aging and there are also many new formats which our students look for.”

She says the funds also help the school expand its resources.

“I also saw a need to increase the diversity of our collection, particularly in Indigenous fiction and non-fiction,” she says.

Funds also help student build their own book collections.

“We were able to offer students the opportunity to choose books for a home library at no cost,” Villebrun says.

“Access to books at home is a huge factor in improving literacy and we want to help our students embrace a love of books at home as well.”

The grant also allows the school to focus on literacy intervention through purchasing targeted materials for students who need extra support.

PRJH participated in the Adopt-a-School program with the Indigo foundation in 2019.

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