Willows plant a willow tree


By Jessie Bell

Student council at Rivers Elementary School honoured Bruce and Michelle Willows by purchasing a willow tree which was planted near Rivers Elementary School playground. School custodian Kevin Jay dug the hole and Bruce planted the tree, after a big thank-you party held in the school gymnasium last June. The party and planting were organized to mark Bruce and Michelle’s retirement after a combined 65 years of teaching there.

Bruce was born in Winnipeg and graduated from University of Winnipeg education program in 1979, coming to Rivers that fall. He had a warm welcome from the local teaching staff, namely principal Hall Sveistrup, Ron Taylor and Doug Johannson (all still of Rivers and all now retired). Bruce taught Grades 3 and 4 and conducted gym classes for 16 years. Although he retired last June, he accepted a term position and is in charge of gym classes half-time this year; he is also occupied as a substitute teacher.

Michelle was born in Ericksdale and came to Rivers in 1982, after also attending U of W where she met her future husband. Michelle taught Grade 1 for a few years then Grade 2 until her retirement. She is still involved with young students who visit Prairie Crocus Regional Library where she is the assistant to librarian Sherri Dziver. Michelle’s enjoyment there is sharing literature and reading to the youngsters.

When principal Krista Reynolds expressed a desire to have above-ground vegetable and flower planting (offering students a chance to become involved in gardening), Bruce agreed to the plan. He then helped to have large wooden boxes made by the woodworking class at Rivers Collegiate. The boxes were filled with soil by farmers and volunteers. This project was done in  2013 and continued this year, with watering during summer holidays done by nearby residents. To help fill his time this summer, Bruce helped with gardening at The Trestle Greenhouse in Rivers.

Bruce and Michelle have two sons, Brett and Riley. Brett is attending University of Toronto where he is studying kinesiology and participating in Canadian university hockey. Riley is employed by the City of Brandon and lives with his parents in Rivers.