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Students dive deep into Canadian history at heritage fair

Students took a break from hitting the books at last week’s Flin Flon Heritage Fair.
heritage fair
Cassidy Alexander and Niki Keramydas pose with their award winning Heritage Fair project on the history of auto recycling in Manitoba. The two formed one of dozens of groups that produced nearly 70 projects at last week’s fair. - PHOTO BY ERIC WESTHAVER

Students took a break from hitting the books at last week’s Flin Flon Heritage Fair.

Instead, the group of students from Ruth Betts Community School and École McIsaac School exhibited projects they spent weeks working on, answering questions from curious onlookers about their investigations into different aspects of Canadian history and culture.

Organizer and teacher Michelle Reitlo said the exhibition of the students’ work ran smoothly.

“The numbers are still the same as they’ve been in years past. We have a lot more double projects than single projects, so we have about 10 fewer projects this year. I think we have 67 now. The work is excellent again this year,” she said.

Reitlo also noted the advanced art and presentation quality students put into their projects, mentioning some particular projects as visually interesting.

“I think there’s some different artwork that we haven’t seen before and some more artistic background than what we’ve seen before. I think because some of the students have done it before for a few years, they’re really stretching out and finding some new topics. We’re not seeing a lot of the same stuff that we see every year, so that makes it a little more interesting as well,” she added.

Top projects, totalling 16 students, were given awards and are eligible to attend the upcoming Red River Heritage Fair in Winnipeg.

“When they go down to the provincial fair, they see some unique ideas and different ways that schools present their projects. Then they come back with those ideas and they just build upon that. There’s always something different. Every time we go down to Winnipeg, there’s something we haven’t seen before that the kids notice,” said Reitlo.

Two McIsaac students, Cassidy Alexander and Niki Keramydas, received a third consecutive win in their class and will head down to the Red River Fair again later this year. Alexander and Keramydas have earned praise at the Winnipeg-based exhibition for their previous two projects, diving into Metis and Greek history in Manitoba.

This year, the pair did their project on the history of auto recycling in Manitoba – a subject near and dear to Alexander, whose family owns and operates Alexander’s Auto Ranch just outside Flin Flon. Their project featured exhibits including a Powerpoint presentation, newspaper clippings, historical photos and full costume – even an early catalytic converter.

“If I could present or make a project every single day, I definitely would. I would present to a whole crowd if I could. I love it,” said Alexander.

Reitlo said community and teacher involvement has played a major role in keeping the fair viable.

“A huge reason why the Heritage Fair has stayed consistent is that the social studies teachers are on board and provides class time and resources,” she said.

“There are projects where students have to interview family members or somehow reach out and contact people from different places. There’s definitely community-type support for it. The bulk of these would have been done during class time.”