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from "The Beacon Herald"
by Editorial Staff of The Beacon Herald (Stratford, Ont.)
October 30th 2001

The fund-raising campaign to transform the historic Stratford Normal School into The Discovery Centre at the Normal School officially kicks off at a breakfast launch Thursday at 8 a.m. in the building’s top floor auditorium. Organizers have put together a program which promises to be informative and inspiring and the public is invited to attend the event. Loreena McKennitt, international recording artist and the project’s honorary patron, will be on hand for the launch, along with Stratford actor Michael Fawkes, who will take part in the festivities as the distinguished Dr. S. Silcox, the Normal School’s first headmaster. "Our volunteer special events committee, co-chaired by Judy Preston and Tim St. Louis, has worked tirelessly to create a special morning of festivities," said campaign chair John Wilkinson in a press release. "Come join us for breakfast as we witness the rebirth of the building and the launch of our fund-raising campaign." Mayor Karen Haslam, members of the fund-raising team, and distinguished guests and donors will be on hand as well and organizers expect a few surprises will be announced during the launch. The Stratford Normal School opened in September 1908. By the time it closed its doors in 1953, 14,000 teachers had been trained there. Now, thanks to the efforts of many Stratford and Perth County volunteers, organizations and government officials, the future of the historic building is assured. A $2.5-million renovation and restoration project is already under way, with funding support from the city and other sources. "We all know the world comes to the Stratford Festival," said Mr. Wilkinson. "The Discovery Centre at the Normal School will become the face we show the world. It will be the face of Stratford, the face of our region."

"Six Nations representatives Paula Whitlow, left, and Joyce Smoke join honorary patron Loreena McKennitt, right, in posing with a life-sized representatation of Canadian poet E. Pauline Johnson. The middle floor of the Normal School building will be named after the native poet as an acknowledgement of Ms. McKennitt’s gift of $100,000 to the Discovery Centre project. Photo by Robin Wilhelm"