McCulloch school book launch wows co-authors

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PICTOU — A wish for students at McCulloch Education Centre to appreciate writing has resulted in an astonishing book.

Hey! I Wrote That! Treasures from the Young Pirate Hearts and Voices at M.E.C. is the school’s anthology that was officially launched on Monday to complete nearly four months of work with the 260 students and some 30 teachers and support staff to produce the book.

Retired educator Rita Wilson said she marvelled at the process by students and staff to combine their efforts on the finished product.

“It’s so lovely to see how proud the kids were,” she said.

The process began when educators Linda Murray and Carlie Thompson conceived of the idea and approached River John-based author Sheree Fitch to help. Gail Chaisson, literary mentor for the Celtic Family of Schools in the Chignecto-Central Region, also provided leadership.

“It was a gift for me to work at this school,” Fitch said. “(The teachers) wrote me a letter and I couldn’t say no. I was not going to say yes, but I’m so glad I did.”

Fitch wrote the book’s forward, which included her promise to display the book at her book shop in River John.

“Any anthology of writing is a collaboration and this is no exception,’ she wrote.

The book sells for $15, and $2 from the sale of each book goes to the Epileptic Foundation of Nova Scotia in memory of Connor MacDonald, to whom the book is dedicated. MacDonald was a student at M.E.C. and passed away suddenly last December.

Jami McDowell was among students who shared what they wrote in the book and wrote the dedication to MacDonald.

“We miss him and will continue to honour him as the kind, adventurous and friendly young man he was,” she wrote.

M.E.C. principal Frank McNeill said he was amazed at the results of the project.

“It exceeded my expectations,” he said. “Every student had a part. Every student and adult worked to contribute.”

Fitch was visibly moved by the tribute paid to her and in how the writings were presented in the book.

“I’m looking at a whole lot of people who found their voices,” she said. “Not everyone will grow up and be a writer but will at least use words to speak truth. What’s really important is that at the end of the year you have something to hold.”

Books are available at the Pictou school and at Fitch’s shop, Mable Murple’s Book Shoppe & Dreamery in River John.

River John author Sheree Fitch is shown with McCulloch Education Centre students Jami McDowell, left, and Sadie LeBlanc. (Goodwin photo)