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

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

 

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

Just Posted

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Build a new pool or fix the old? Port Hardy mayor wades in

‘… whatever we do going forward we want the support of the community’

Fear and ignorance have spiked racism in the province: B.C’s human rights commissioner

Kasari Govender has been virtually interacting with citizens in remote, rural areas to address concerns of discrimination

COVID-19 tests come back negative in remote First Nation community

“There are no suspected cases in the community at this time.”

QUIZ: Do you know the truth?

In what has been described as a post-truth era, how much do you know about truth and lies?

NHL playoffs: Canucks to meet St. Louis Blues in Round 1

Vancouver takes on defending champs beginning Wednesday

Simon Cowell breaks his back falling from electric bike

Incident happened at his home in California

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Missing teen visiting Courtenay found safe

She had last been seen going for a walk on Aug. 6

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Fitness non-profit challenges citizens to invent a game to be physically active

The campaign was launched after a study showed only 4.8 per cent of children and youths in Canada met required standards of the 24-hour movement guidelines

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

Most Read