by Julia M. Langlois

On Wednesday, March 20, Rick Mercer, star of CBC shows  This Hour Has 22 Minutes and The Rick Mercer Report visited Almonte District High School to film the winning high school of the Spread the Net Student Challenge fundraising competition.  Students Colleen Stratford- Kurus, Margot Denis, Laura Barrass and Shelby Featherston have spearheaded the work since September.

Spread the Net  was founded when Belinda Stronach and Rick Mercer traveled to Africa in 2006 with Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and at that time, the Director of the UN Millennium Project. It was there that they saw firsthand the devastating effects of malaria, and the shockingly simple bed net solution so out-of-reach for thousands of African families. So, Belinda and Rick co-founded STN in partnership with UNICEF Canada in 2006 with a goal of raising enough awareness and funds to purchase and distribute 500,000 bed nets to prevent malaria-related deaths in Africa.

Spread the Net Student Challenge invites elementary, secondary and post-secondary students across Canada to host fundraising events that help raise awareness and money for the cause. Mercer stated “…really can anyone think of a better way for Canadians to lend a hand – malaria is spread by mosquitoes. If there is a war that Canadians can get behind it’s the war on mosquitoes.” ADHS won this year’s secondary school competition by  raising $5,854.05 for the Spread the Net Student Challenge, which  will save the lives of approximately 2880 people, according to the school’s competition Facebook page. As winners, ADHS will appear on a segment of the Rick Mercer show on CBC, April 2 at 8 p.m.

The day began with an introduction from Rick Mercer. The gym was filled with orange and black (the school’s colours), along with cheers of excitement. The school made a music video for a local band Ascension. The film crew had students participate in various shots for the show. Mercer visited classrooms, interviewed students and participated in various other activities. Teagan Dern, a grade ten student noted afterwards that “he is a truly exciting person to be around”.  Heidi Essery, a senior at ADHS said that “he has a contagious energy.” This was easy to see as the school was filled with energy, even in the morning!

At the end of the day, Rick Mercer joined in a shoot-out with ADHS basketball students. Every basket that he or the students sunk would represent a donation of $10 to Spread the Net. A total of an additional $300 was raised during the shoot-out.

An energetic and exciting day for the students and teachers of ADHS, all for such a worthy cause! Congratulations to the ADHS Spread the Net team!

To see full coverage of the day’s events watch The Rick Mercer Report on CBC, April 2 at 8:00 p.m.