The students receive their letters from Henry Winkler at the school leaving ceremony Wednesday evening. (Contributed)

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)

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

Just Posted

Peachland resident and cleanup volunteer Lloyd Stinson Sotas holds up a discarded TV riddled with bullet holes. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
PHOTOS: Peachland residents clean up community watershed

More than 70 people gave back to Mother Earth by assisting with the cleanup

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Steven Brown is running for Penticton city council in the June by-election. (Contributed)
Penticton race director throws hat into city council ring

Steven Brown will run with a focus on small business

Penticton Vees celebrate a goal in their second win to start their season on Saturday night at the SOEC. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton Vees head into final weekend tied for first in league

The Vees have two games to take the top spot

Coronavirus 3D illustration. (CDC photo)
Two Summerland businesses closed due to COVID-19

The businesses are listed on the Interior Health website

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

City of Vernon Coun. Dalvir Nahal proposed two blocks of Main Street be closed to bolster recovery for downtown businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)
Vernon’s ‘support local’ Main Street closure would cost city $24K, staff say

Bylaw costs, loss of parking revenue and equipment logistics behind price tag

Five properties have been added to the Lake Country fire protection zone, after council moved to expand the local service area Tuesday, May 4, 2021. (Google Maps)
Lake Country expands fire protection zone, covering 5 exposed properties

The properties petitioned to join the local service area after being left out ‘for reasons unknown’

VSAR’s Air Rescue One unit assisted in a rescue in West Kelowna May 3, 2021. (VSAR screenshot)
VIDEO: VSAR’s Air Rescue One team assists in West Kelowna Rescue

The Vernon Search and Rescue helicopter team pulled off a successful rescue Monday

Officials are surveying the streets of Vernon to get a better sense of the issue of homelessness in the city, as part of the province’s point-in-time homeless count for 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Province conducts homeless count in Vernon

It’s the first time Vernon has been included in the provincial homeless count

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

A proposed development would see two four-storey affordable housing complexes erected on Adair Street in Armstrong, next to the Nor-Val Arena. (Google Maps)
Local tenants to be prioritized for Armstrong affordable housing project

Staff have drafted an expression of interest to find a developer to move forward with on the project

Most Read