They gathered by the hundreds ―in fact seven hundred and some― children, parents, grandparents, educators, commissioner and School Board representatives came to celebrate the Laval, Laurentians and Lanaudière Young Authors, vintage 2013-2014.
Sunday, February 23rd was the big day, and the crowds started pouring into Laurier Senior High School at approximately 10:30 a.m. and stayed for the festivities until closing time, 3:00 p.m.

As each Young Author arrived, he or she was greeted on the red carpet in true celebrity fashion. Each one was interviewed and videotaped by Laval Liberty H.S. Leadership Students who, by the way, did a wonderful job all day long. Next, at the registration booth, each author was handed a package containing her or his story and a Certificate of Participation plus an entry form for a chance to win a Google Chrome Tablet, graciously offered by the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board. All were then invited to visit the sponsors’ booths and to join in the fun. Thanks to the generosity of sponsor Aquarius Amusement Inflatable Games, there were inflatable games for the children’s enjoyment (some parents were spotted sneaking a try at the games as well). We were also treated to a delicious buffet lunch supplied by Pâtisserie St. Martin, including their scrumptious cannoli. What is any successful event without good food, right?

The crowning event of the day, the Awards Ceremony, took place in the school’s cafeteria, presided over by Luigi Morabito and Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board Director General, Ms Stephanie Vucko, and School Board Chairman, Mr. Nick Milas who was proudly sporting his Canadian scarf in honor of our Olympic athletes. Each in turn addressed the crowd. Ms. Vucko told the Young Authors about her own journey as a published author and encouraged them to continue writing. Also in attendance was Commissioner William Pollock from the Arundel /Mont Laurier/ Ste. Agathe/ Harrington region. Special recognition was also given to the Readers-Writers Summer Workshop, celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year. Two of the founders were in attendance, Beverly Beauvais and Leo Venditti. All of the YAC participants were acknowledged and posed for a group photo, with flashbulbs popping everywhere. Finally, when the suspense could no longer be contained, the contest winners were announced. Each winning author in turn received her or his award and prize, and posed for souvenir photos.

Organizing an event for 700 + people is a monumental task, and praises are due for super organizers Luigi Morabito, Manon Gervais and all their team who have dedicated themselves to this project for the last several months, and meticulously planned every detail. Making a huge contribution to the success of the day were Ms. Helen Kalipolidis and her team of Laval Liberty H.S. Leadership students: John Gizas, Vanessa Pelliciotta, Marilena Papadopoulos, Elias Polizos and Adam Leal. This dedicated group was on duty from 8:15 in the morning for set-up until 4:00 p.m. for the dismantling. Throughout the day they looked out for the welfare of the children at the inflatable games, took care of crowd control, helped to serve the buffet lunch, interviewed the Young Authors on the red carpet, videotaped the entire event, and performed many other behind-the-scenes chores, all with enthusiasm and smiles!

Speaking of work behind-the-scenes, thanks to the support and encouragement of many teachers, parents and school administrators, (you know who you are!) 231 children from all three regions submitted their delightful, beautifully illustrated stories. This made the task of judging the stories and selecting the winning ones very difficult for the eight judges, who spent many hours reading all the stories and slowly paring down the list of the “best of the best”. In their eyes all the children are winners for having put forth their best effort.

Thanks to all our sponsors the winning authors received generous recognition for their efforts. They are: Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board, Agoo Children’s Private Health Center, Bureau en Gros, H.O.P.E., Subaru de Laval, Restaurant L’Académie, Sir Wilfrid Laurier Foundation, The Camp Experts & Teen Summers, Centre Pédagogique La Renaissance, Derm & Touche Nail Bar, DM Family School, Kumon, KOLDA, Garderie Éducative Bilingue Face à Face, Carrefour Multisports, Funtime, Kid Biz, and last but not least, Aquarius Amusement and Pâtisserie St. Martin.

At the end of the day a tired but happy group of people gave the joyful event an enthusiastic “thumbs up”. According to Luigi, there is no way to go but up. For 2014-2015 he hopes there will be more teachers, more parents and more students from more schools participating.

Plans are already underway for YAC 2014-2015:

  • Collaboration with the Sir Wifrid Laurier School Board
  • YAC 2014-2015 will encompass the three regions: Laval, Laurentians and Lanudière, 26 elementary schools, 11 high schools and 5 adult education and vocational training centers – over 16 000 students!
  • This will mean the naming of three judging teams
  • Prizes for each category
  • The publication of the winning stories in book format, book signings, red carpet treatment
  • A larger venue, (a reception hall? the Bell Center?)
  • Prizes, games, fun for all … THE SKY IS THE LIMIT!

Young Authors and parents, WE WANT YOU BACK NEXT YEAR! Get ready for YAC 2014-2015; get the word out to friends at school, family and neighbors, to teachers, principals and classmates. We are looking forward to record-breaking participation on all levels.

Meanwhile, getting back to Laval Families Young Authors’ Contest and Celebration 2013-2014, we officially declare them a huge success!

Read the first prize stories:

Grade 1 & 2 -> Living in a cloud, written by Matteo Iacampo
Grade 3 & 4 -> Escape from the Old Folks Home, written by Rowan Draper
Grade 5 & 6 -> The Wig Warrior, written by Mia Girard