Wartime letters help students understand Remembrance Day

Ajax High School student David Koufis performs in “Letters” a play about wartime soldiers’ correspondence. (GIFFIN_PIC_E)

David Koufis had never been to war, until Nov. 10 this year.

“You do a lot of reflecting, thinking about what you’re doing and what you’re saying,” Koufis said. “Someone my age had to go through this and that makes you definitely think, reflect and have a totally renewed respect for the day.”

On Nov. 10, the Friday before Remembrance Day, Grade 12 students at Ajax High School showed their support for Canada’s veterans. The students staged a rendition of the play ‘Letters’ during a Remembrance Day assembly. The letters written by soldiers depicted the perils of Canadian soldiers’ experiences in war.

Koufis, a student at Ajax High and an actor in the drama class’s performance, used the time spent rehearsing to not only prepare himself for his role but also, as time to rethink the sacrifices Canada’s veterans made for him.

“Our generation has never gone through something where everyone in the world was affected,” he said “Our generation is more of trying to understand rather than having an understanding.”

Remembrance Day can also be about remembering people who have lost a battle, he said, even a battle with cancer. Koufis lost a close friend to the disease in early 2009.

“By me saying dear Mr. and Mrs. Connor Gilmore (during the performance) that was part of how it got me into the role by thinking of how I lost someone close to me,” Koufis said.

Sheri Prescott, the Grade 12 drama class teacher who organized the play, recognized just how important it is to keep young people connected to Remembrance Day as well as understanding what the day can teach them.

“What we owe them (the veterans) is to remember their contribution,” Prescott said. “We keep teaching in the schools to stand up for yourself and to stand up for others. That is what war is sometimes, standing up. We have to keep Remembrance Day alive.”