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MONTREAL,  NOVEMBER 7, 2008 -    Media Awareness Network (MNet) and the Canadian Teachers' Federation (CTF)  have partnered for the third consecutive year to present National Media Education Week, November 3-7, 2007. The purpose of the week was to promote media literacy as a key component in the education of young people, and to encourage the integration of media education into Canadian schools, homes, and communities. 

 The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) kicked off Media Education Week on November 3  when award-winning investigative journalist and New York Times bestselling author Ian Halperin, a graduate of LaurenHill Academy in St. Laurent, returned to his old high school   to speak to its students.  Later in the day he also spoke at his former elementary school, Gardenview .

The author of seven bestselling books and the director of three films, Halperin’s latest project is “His Highness Hollywood,” a documentary in which he goes undercover to infiltrate the world of contemporary Hollywood and the controversial Church of Scientology. Based on his best selling book Hollywood Undercover, which is being reissued in paperback this fall, the film also features appearances by such well known celebrities as Sigourney Weaver, Catherine Zeta Jones, Jay Leno and Brad Pitt. “His Highness Hollywood” has been recently released on DVD. His next book, a biography of Britney Spears, will be released shortly.

Besides the New York Times,  Halperin has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, the New York Post, the New York Daily News, the New Yorker and Vanity Fair and has appeared on hundreds of TV and radio shows, including “Dateline NBC,” “Anderson Cooper 360,” and CBS’ “Early Morning Show.”

During his address at LaurenHill, Halperin told the 200 students from the Grades 9, 10 and 11 English classes about the importance of education, as well as entrepreneurship. “There are three kinds of people in this world: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who don’t know what happens,” he said “If you’re passionate about something, you have to do it at any expense, so don’t be afraid to take risks. There is no formula on how to get into show business. You need a strong foundation and education is the key.”

Halperin also spoke about the future of the media, especially the impact of the internet and how it can reach a worldwide market. He also recalled his encounters with celebrities such as Britney Spears, Nicole Kidman, Katie Holmes and rapper Snoop Dogg. It concluded with an impromptu Hollywood trivia quiz conducted by Halperin with two LaurenHill students who were selected from the audience, and competed for an autographed copy of his book Hollywood Undercover.

At Gardenview, Halperin told the large audience made up of the school’s grade 4, 5 and 6 students that the arts captures the beauty of life, and that creativity, along with outside the box thinking is the key to life. “The sky’s the limit for everyone. It’s OK to jump through hoops, and if you’re faced with hurdles, just say ‘bring it on’,” he said.

Halperin then answered a great deal of questions from the eager Gardenview students, who wanted to know about how his career started, if he met certain celebrities and what were his impressions of them, and the celebrity whom he would like to interview, but has not yet done so (his answer was Queen Elizabeth II of England).

A variety of other activities were held in classrooms during the week. On  November 7,   media education students from Laurier Macdonald High School in St. Lèonard -  Michael Ménard, Daniel Wu and Alessandro Di Len - along with their teacher Mike Penning were invited to an event sponsored by the  Concordia University Communications faculty where former Montrealer Peter M. Lenkov was the guest speaker. Lenkov is the executive producer of CSI: New York. He previously held the same position with the show 24.

Media Awareness Network is a Canadian not-for-profit centre of expertise and excellence in media education. Its vision is to ensure children and youth possess the necessary critical thinking skills and tools to understand and actively engage with media. Under the theme Think Critically, Act Ethically: Inside and Outside the Classroom, this year's events aim to encourage young people to become thoughtful, informed and empowered cyber citizens.
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Michael J. Cohen
Communications and Marketing Specialist
English Montreal School Board
Tel: (514) 483-7200 ext. 7243
Fax: (514) 483-7213