Expressions of remembrance united students at Glen Ames Senior Public School in a solemn Nov. 11 ceremony Tuesday.
A book titled “Memorial,” gave the students context for the ceremony. The story followed a young boy who feared a town council decision to remove an old tree planted in memory of fallen soldiers. The boy learns through talking with three generations of former servicemen that the memory of the fallen soldiers will carry on with him.
Each class of Grade 7 and Grade 8 students contributed a branch to a “memorial” tree, displayed on the gymnasium wall during the assembly. On each branch, students added leaves containing their written responses to the book’s central question: “What does the act of remembrance mean to me?”
“I will remember the sound of bugles blowing, for it reminds us of those of who died in the war,” one student wrote, in French, on their leaf.
The tree also served another purpose. Teacher and organizer, Laura Kingelin, says students see it as a visual reminder of their shared connection to Remembrance Day.
“When they see that every student in the school has created a leaf, it brings it home that they’re all connected…that they’re sharing in the experience,” Kingelin said.
Each class also prepared a special performance piece for their peers and guests expressing how they reflect on the act of remembrance. Music teacher and organizer, Ian Speck, led a music ensemble in a performance of Ertodt Uns Durch Dein Gute (Humble us by Thy Goodness) by classical composer Johann Sebastian Bach. He says organizers felt the students would better understand the significance of remembering through performance.
“We wanted the school as a whole to begin thinking about why this is important and why people sacrifice for freedom,” Speck said.
In their performances, students also honoured the memory of fallen soldiers and civilians from different eras through poetry, song, drama and even Twitter messages for the hash-tag #HowIRemember. Following the ceremony, vice-principal Brian Panesar praised the students for their creativity.
“I think the uniqueness that every class brought to the overall performance was really impressive,” Panesar said.