East York students prepare Remembrance Day program

Narin Shrmasi, far left, rehearses for Remembrance Day observance at Jackman Avenue Junior Public School. Photo Sherika Harris.
Narin Shrmasi, far left, rehearses for Remembrance Day observance at Jackman Avenue Junior Public School. Photo Sherika Harris.

On Tuesday, Narin Shamasi joined her classmates in the gym at Jackman Avenue Junior Public School in East York.

As a recording played out the music, Narin swung her arms behind her back and then back in front of her chest in a prayer motion; occasionally she froze in a tableau.

“All my life I’ve been waiting for, I’ve been praying for people to say … ‘We don’t want to fight no more,’” the song says.

She was preforming to the song “One Day,” by Matisyahu, a Jewish-American reggae vocalist.

“I always sing the song in my head and then I look at myself as if I’m doing it,” Narin said.

In mid-September, Grade 4-to-6 students began rehearsing for their annual Remembrance Day ceremony on Nov. 11. Grade 4 teacher, Sara Cheng, has helped organize the school’s ceremonies for 13 years. Cheng shared the preparation with fellow teachers Mandy Csamer and Raul Selberg. They all worked together creating a dramatic program to commemorate the day.

Narin practises the dance every chance she gets. As the song plays in her head, she recognizes how important her movements are.

“I do it sometimes in class while I’m correcting my math,” she said.

When the children completed a rehearsal, they sat at one end of the gym on the floor. Teacher Selberg began to explain, that because there are no words, the students have to use their bodies to convey the message.

“Facial expression is key. It’s still tableau. It’s all visual,” he said. “The first tableau (talks) about blood in the streets, war and all those terrible things; (so) listen to those lyrics. … I want to see it in your face.”

Narin Shamasi offers a symbol of peace with her teacher, Sara Cheng.
Narin Shamasi offers a symbol of peace with her teacher, Sara Cheng.

Cheng believes a dance drama piece gives children a chance to really express themselves.

“The thing about little kids is, they have little voices. When you try to do an actual play, their voices get lost,” she said. “Although they may have worked for months and months, they get up there and they get scared and nobody can hear them.”

Cheng encouraged her students to remember to look big on stage.

“Show me big movements, so even your granny can see it,” she said.

The Jackman Avenue Junior Public School Remembrance Day observance will also include performances from student poets as well as the junior choir.