MANITOWANING – Students at Assiginack Public School (APS) have designed banners for the Township of Assiginack’s 150th anniversary this year and four of them will appear publicly in Manitowaning for the sesquicentennial, offering a small commemoration of this year’s significant anniversary until the full celebrations can take place once pandemic restrictions ease, hopefully in 2022.
Assiginack events co-ordinator Jackie White approached APS principal Heather Pennie to brainstorm ways to get students involved in celebrating the historic anniversary. Ms. White had spoken with Dave Smith of Assiginack Historical Society, which organized banners for Assiginack’s 125th anniversary in partnership with APS.
“Assiginack Public School has always been a community school; we have very close ties with the community and lots of collaboration between us. We got talking about banners and (Ms. White) was wondering if the students might be interested in participating in a contest to have their artwork on banners. I sent the info to our staff and they thought it would be a wonderful way to have a little part of it,” Ms. Pennie said.
The response was strong and swift—teachers did their best to integrate the project into their curricula and they received the top submissions from students between Kindergarten and Grade 8.
Ms. White and Ms. Pennie joined forces to review the submissions and they landed on four options, chosen without looking at the students’ names. They ended up choosing two girls and two boys from all across the grade spectrum.
“(The students) had some great ideas that the township liked; the ones we chose were pretty excited and surprised,” Ms. Pennie said.
“Originally, I had thought maybe we could get a graphic designer to turn them into commercial artwork, but when we saw them they were so sweet, so good and Beacon Images was able to work with what we provided (as-is),” Ms. White said.
The four banners went up last week to celebrate the 2021 anniversary before next year’s larger tentative plans. Those are all on hold this year in the hopes that they can be larger next year, if the pandemic restrictions ease by then.
“We’ve had stuff in the works for pretty much every month (of the celebration year), big or small, but it’s hard to plan right now just because we don’t know what’s going to happen and how we’re going to carry that out,” Ms. White said.
The township has a committee for the occasion and is in the midst of gathering historical photographs from residents, especially centenarian Jean McLennan who, “is a force, as usual.”
Ms. White said the township looks forward to showing off its celebration plans as it gets ready for roll-out.
Long-time Assiginack councillor Hugh Moggy said the township has been planning for a year and a half but the unexpected global crisis meant delays to the project.
“It’s sad, but there’s not much we can do about it. Hopefully everybody gets vaccinated and that’ll solve the problem,” he said.