Remembrance Day: Students learn of peace from stories of war

Each Remembrance Day, a local teacher gathers her students together to form a human peace sign during the school assembly.  The symbol offers remembrance to those who fought in wars past and present.

For Elizabeth Seo, a music and French teacher at William Burgess Elementary School in East York, the act helps students understand complex issues such as war and accountability.

“Peace is not just something that soldiers have done.  It’s also something that they (students) have responsibility in doing,” Seo said.

The teacher’s philosophy on peace is rooted in her own family’s story.  During hostilities on the Korean peninsula in the late 1940s, Seo’s father fled from North to South Korea.  He learned to persevere and adapt upon immigrating to Canada in 1974.

Seo has hung posters on the walls of her classroom about mutual respect, fostering in her students the very ideals passed down from her father.

“It starts with one person. . . giving appreciation instead of a put-down,” she said.    “Kids see that they have that role. . . that chance to make a difference.”

Seo believes the assembly makes the connection between Remembrance Day and the human peace sign.  Lauren Meratto, a Grade 5 student at the school, thinks the peace sign symbolizes a tribute to Canadian soldiers.

“Peace means it’s silent, no war,” Lauren said.

As students formed the peace sign around her in the schoolyard this week, Seo sensed she could influence them in a positive way.

“In a perfect world, we could all get along.  This (peace sign) is one method to open our eyes,” she said.