Westwood Middle School’s Remembrance ceremony evolves

But purpose of observance remains reflection, recognition, principal says

As veterans’ names were read, the roar of military planes flying past was heard and felt throughout the school.

It was enough to move some to tears at last year’s Remembrance Day ceremony at Westwood Middle School on Carlaw Avenue.

“It was a very touching coincidence,” school principal Marc Sprack said. “A selection of students will again this year be reading the names of the veterans who attended Westwood.”

Though tradition and the act of remembrance is important at the school, how the school community remembers has evolved and continues to as Westwood gets ready for it’s ceremony on Nov. 11, he said.

“Traditionally we have a children’s chorus that sings two songs, however this year the students actually will be speaking the words of the poem In Flanders Fields over instrumental music,” Sprack said.

The school also made a change a year ago, making its observance more accessible to the wider community.

“In previous years we made Remembrance Day in the gym in front of the students, but last year we made the ceremony outside,” Sprack said. “Instead of coming in to the gym, [community members] could join us outside the school for the ceremony.”

And, like a year ago, honoured guests are set to participate at Westwood’s observance again this year.

“We have veterans coming from our local legion,” Sprack said. “Last year we had two officers that have served. They came and spoke with the students.”

Marking Remembrance Day by reading the names of those from Westwood who served, reciting In Flanders Fields, speaking with veterans — all of it is meant to get participants to think about two important things, Sprack said.

“One is, as the title suggests, to remember, to be thoughtful and to spend some time reflecting on our past as Canadians,” he said. “The other is to recognize the gifts that we have in our country and the safety that we have because of what happened in the past.”