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

CN train derailment cleared between Terrace and Prince Rupert

The CN mainline is now open, following a train derailment mid-way between… Continue reading

Kitimat’s BC Hydro substation receives a massive upgrade

It will cost $82 million to ensure that LNG Canada has enough… Continue reading

Comment requested for Kitimat LNG’s expansion plans

Company says radical redesign means additional export is possible

Haisla Nation Council appoints Stewart, Renwick

Two recently elected Haisla Nation councillors, Kevin Stewart and Arthur Renwick, have… Continue reading

Relief in sight from open burn pollution

New regulations should cut down on air pollution

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Vancouver Island teens missing after vehicle found ablaze near Dease Lake, BC

RCMP say a body discovered nearby not one of the missing teens

A year later, ceremony commemorates victims of the Danforth shooting

It’s the one-year anniversary of when a man opened fire along the bustling street before shooting and killing himself

Japanese Canadians call on B.C. to go beyond mere apology for historic racism

The federal government apologized in 1988 for its racism against ‘enemy aliens’

B.C. VIEWS: NDP pushes ahead with Crown forest redistribution

This isn’t the time for a radical Indigenous rights agenda

Two dead in two-vehicle crash between Revelstoke and Golden

RCMP are investigating the cause of the crash

Ottawa fights planned class action against RCMP for bullying, intimidation

The current case is more general, applying to employees, including men, who worked for the RCMP

Alberta judge denies B.C.’s bid to block ‘Turn Off the Taps’ bill

He said the proper venue for the disagreement is Federal Court

Most Read