Blossoming literacy skills

Forest Primary School Grade 1/2 students throw their support behind classmate Ashton Lardner (centre) who has won a statewide competition as part of the Learning in Families Together (LiFT) program. Ashton, who is pictured with younger brother Ajae, mum Shirleah and teachers Tori Horton and Toni Popowski, gave one of the program’s characters, ‘Blossom the Possum’, her name.

Education. Forest Primary School’s Ashton Lardner has won a statewide competition in naming a special possum by the name of Blossom.

The ‘LiFT Animal Naming Competition’ attracted more than 2500 entries statewide.

LiFT stands for Learning in Families Together and is a program that encourages the building of positive relationships between schools and families.

As part of the competition, students from Kindergarten to Grade 2 from participating schools were asked to ‘bring to life’ the four LiFT characters by giving them names.

Forest Primary School LiFT coordinator Toni Popowski said the program, implemented in the school earlier this year, is going “really, really well”.

“We’ve made more of an effort to engage families, it’s been really successful so far,” she said.

“We’ve noticed that there has been an increase in families coming into the school or contacting the school.”

Forest Primary School is one of 80 schools across the state, including Smithton Primary School, to implement the program into their curriculum.

“Ashton’s so proud of himself, he went to a lot of effort,” Ms Popowski said of the competition. “He’s thrilled to bits!”

Mum Shirleah Lardner said her son had put a lot of thought into the winning name.

“The way he came up with his names for his animals was think about what they do in their natural habitat or by rhyming with the animals name,” Mrs Lardner said.

“So Blossom was very fitting because he thought possums ate blossoms and it rhymed so it was a winner.”

“We have read his book (prize) as a family tonight and nearly worn the CD with the lullaby out!”

Blossom the Possum was one of the four winning character names. Other winners were Myrtle the Quoll, Digger the Wombat and Neville the Devil.

For his efforts, Ashton was formally recognised at a class presentation on Tuesday.

It was there that he received a book featuring the Australian animal that he named and a certificate of congratulations signed by Minister for Education and Training Jeremy Rockliff.

“I remain committed to doing everything I can to ensure that every young Tasmanian is given the very best opportunity to gain a good job and live a fulfilling life,” Mr Rockcliff said of the $17.75 million literacy and numeracy initiative.

“I believe our investment in education will help to achieve this.”

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