David Gibson, mall manager Marilyn Fuller, Mel Sager, and Richard Sager. (Jim Wisnia photo)

Coffee time: Mel Sagar honoured; Short Fiction Honourable Mention; Teaching Excellence award; First Place for QMS stuent

• Jim Wisnia, Signs of Places Past coordinator at the Mill Bay/Malahat Historical Society, has some special comments to share about his group’s addition to its sign program.

“Forty years ago, Mel Sager went door-to-door in Mill Bay asking residents what services they’d like to have in the Mill Bay Shopping Centre he planned to develop in partnership with his son Richard and their friend David Gibson on the crossroads block he had bought.

“That open-minded consultation and team spirit combined with years of his hard labour and wise investment enabled the completion of a village centre that all could be proud of and benefit from. Many hundreds of locals have earned livings there and all in South Cowichan have accessed services there, be they retail, health, financial, professional, or cultural. The fact that several of the people who worked beside Mel in those early days are still working at the mall is just one indicator that Mel, now in his 90s, has truly been an inspiring community-builder,” Wisnia said in a note prepared for The Citizen.

On Saturday morning, April 29, Mel Sager was “the surprised honouree at the unveiling of a sign celebrating Mill Bay Centre’s history and Mel’s pivotal role in it,” Wisnia said.

The sign was produced by the Mill Bay/Malahat Historical Society and is mounted beside the new mall directory map on the updated information kiosk.

A few dozen family, former associates, historical society members, and other admirers applauded Sager and helped eat the cake provided by Thrifty Foods.

• The winners of the Islands Short Fiction Contest were recently announced.

J. Leigh Hirst of Mill Bay won an honourable mention in the adult category for the work “Stick People.”

The Islands Short Fiction Contest is co-sponsored by the Nanaimo Arts Council, the Vancouver Island Regional Library, and the Vancouver Island University Department of Creative Writing and Journalism. It is made possible by financial support from the Government of B.C. and the City of Nanaimo.

Most of the winning entries will be posted at isfc.ca

• Chemainus teacher Janet Ruest has received a Certificate of Achievement for Teaching Excellence, one of 11 B.C. teachers and early childhood educators to be recognized.

The Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence honour outstanding and innovative elementary and secondary school teachers in all disciplines for their remarkable educational achievements and for their commitment to preparing their students for a digital and innovation-based economy.

• Alexander Munro of Queen Margaret’s School has won first place in British Columbia for the Canadian Scholastic Achievement League Scholastic Challenge. This year’s win increases the school’s record to five provincial championships in seven years.

CSAL’s Scholastic Challenge is an online academic competition open to all Canadian Grade 6 students. The contest is a one hour multiple choice test containing 100 questions in six categories: general knowledge, language and literature, social studies, science and mathematics. This year’s provincial champion thought the format and content of the test was a fun chance to explore his knowledge.

“I normally don’t do well on multiple choice tests, especially timed ones,” explains Munro. “I thought the questions were interesting because we don’t normally get tested on such a broad range of content. I was completely stunned when I found out I earned first in B.C.”

The win may have been a surprise to Munro, but this was not the case for QMS Junior School Principal, Susan Cruikshank.

“Alexander has always been an enthusiastic reader and voracious learner, and his ability to retain details is impressive,” said Cruikshank. “His curiosity about the world and current events comes through in classroom discussions each day. We’re very proud of Alexander.”

The provincial championship was again a surprise for Grade 6 teacher Fiona Morrison.

“I’m so excited for these students and thrilled they find this competition a healthy and fun opportunity to challenge their familiarity with the curriculum materials,” she said. “Over three-quarters of the class placed above the national average. Any teacher would be proud of that level of accomplishment.”