The students receive their letters from Henry Winkler at the school leaving ceremony Wednesday evening. (Contributed)

‘The Fonz’ gives thumbs up in letter to dyslexic students at B.C. school

Students in Maple Ridge reached out to Henry Winkler after reading one his Zipster books.

A group of Grade 5 boys at James Cameron School in Maple Ridge was surprised at the annual leaving ceremony Wednesday with signed letters from the actor Henry Winkler.

The boys had read I Got a “D” in Salami, the second book in the Hank Zipzer series, written by Lin Oliver and Winkler, best known for his role as ‘The Fonz’ in the American TV sitcom Happy Days, whichran from 1974 to ’84. Most recently, he has played roles in various television series, including Arrested Development, Barry and Guardians of the Galaxy.

The book series centres around the protagonist Hank, who has dyslexia, like Winkler, who has struggled with it throughout his life.

In this book, Hank gets his first Grade 4 report card and decides he has to get rid of the document before his parents see it. He gives it to a friend to destroy, who puts it in a batch of salami that his mother is making for the head of a supermarket chain at the family deli.

When she picks that batch of salami to send, Hank and his friends try to put a stop to the delivery and it is during this journey that he figures out he has learning problems.

All of the students at James Cameron have dyslexia.

READ ALSO: Lighting up minds, the world

Simi Pillay, Grade 5 teacher at James Cameron, asked his students, after they had read the book, if they wanted to reach out to the actor and tell him what they thought of it.

“Dear Mr. Henry Winkler. Hank Zipzer 2 is a good book. I like the jokes and puns. Zip is funny and he reminds me of me,” read one student’s letter.

“Dear Henry. I liked your book because it was funny. I feel it was encouraging and motivated me to try harder,” read another.

One more read: “If I had to be realistic about the book, it was good. The message is great and funny, like me at home. You inspire me and others around you.”

The letters were mailed to Winkler at the beginning of May.

When Penny Shepherd-Hill, principal of James Cameron School, checked the mail on the final day of school, she found an envelope containing the actor’s replies.

All the letters are the same. They describe how, after 10 years of writing with Oliver, how finishing 32 Hank Zipzer novels, was something Winkler thought he would never achieve because school was so difficult for him.

But, the letter read, what he learned was that “no matter how you learn, you are still brilliant.”

He thanked each student for sending a “smart and thoughtful letter.”

Each reply is addressed personally to the students and includes words of encouragement, such as “You are great” and “You are smart,” hand-written on the bottom of the page.

“It’s a real personal inspiration to our kids who struggle with reading and writing like Henry,” said Shepherd-Hill.

She added that it is encouraging for the boys to realize that somebody so successful once struggled like them in school.


 

cflanagan@mapleridgenews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

The letter that Henry Winkler sent to the students at James Cameron School. (Contributed)

Just Posted

RCMP: Appledale homicide investigation still active

A 59-year-old man was found dead on May 20

Brrrrring in the New Year with the Polar Bear Swim

Kootenay Co-op Radio teams up with local stewardship groups for annual dip

Nelson Community Food Centre celebrates with Festive Food Days

The idea is to share healthful, festive food over the holidays with people not able to afford it.

Kootenay-Columbia MP reacts to leader’s surprise resignation

The resignation of Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer caught members of his caucus by surprise

Kootenay-Columbia MP talks throne speech, USMCA trade deal

Rob Morrison to open constituency office in Cranbrook at 800C Baker St. on Dec. 19

VIDEO: Success of wildlife corridors in Banff National Park has advocates wanting more

Demand for more highway protection escalated after seven elk were killed by a semi-trailer near Canmore

B.C. VIEWS: Hunger does not end with the season

Despite innovations in food distribution, the need is still there in B.C. communities

Sharks beat Canucks 4-2 to snap 6-game skid

Vancouver visits Vegas on Sunday

Fans sing Canadian anthem after sound system breaks at BMW IBSF World Cup

The Canadians in attendance made sure their team and flag were honoured on the podium

VIDEO: Fire destroys Big White Ski Resort chalet

Social media eulogies peg the property, nicknamed “The Pharamacy,” as both loved and hated

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

Nanaimo mechanical engineer creates thief tracking program

Nanaimo Thief Tracking lets users plot and share information about thefts online

Mayor wants B.C. to institutionalize severely mental ill people who are homeless

Those suffering from mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, need specialized care, mayor says

Most Read