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Students take lead for Remembrance Day

Don Fennell   Nov-09-2017

Teacher Susan Garrett (back centre) has written a musical piece to be performed at the school’s Remembrance Day ceremony on Friday, Nov. 10 by flutist Jocelyn Ly (front), 10; and choir made up of Colin Lim (middle), 10, Nihali Mann, 9, and Evan Markel (far left), 10.

Photo by Chung Chow


Students are increasingly taking the lead when it comes to education, and next Friday at Matthew McNair Secondary School will be no exception.

When they gather for their annual Remembrance Day service Nov. 10, the students will be focused on change.

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“A lot of the message is going to be how can we help this change so we don’t have conflict and sacrifices,” said principal Jason Leslie.

But while Leslie and the teaching staff at McNair will help facilitate the program, he proudly notes the first-year leadership class will oversee its production.

“Traditionally it has been put on by the theatre program and augmented by the music department, but this year the leadership class has stepped in to take it on,” he said. “Thirty kids have been meeting after school for the last five weeks to plan, orchestrate and ultimately deliver the multi-media program. It will be an emotionally-moving ceremony.”

Leslie never ceases to be impressed by the students—both their attitudes and skills.

“Here, we let the kids’ voices play a big part and this is something they treat very seriously,” he said. “We fill the gym with the entire student body of 800-plus kids, and everyone is very respectful. As well, kids today are more technically skilled than when we were students. There are lots of concerns about social media since the advent of hand-held communication, but it…,if used properly, has made the kids so much more aware of the world around them. They hear all the stories and are able to form informed opinions.”

McNair’s Remembrance Day ceremony this year, which will start at 10:30 a.m., will feature music, videos, dramatic performances and a respectful tribute to those who have fought in wars to provide us with the freedoms and lives we enjoy today.

A few veterans have also been invited to join the ceremony.

The program is divided into three segments, the first focusing on the past; the second on the world today; and the third looking into the future.

“In doing that we think it helps the kids recognize and appreciate the sacrifices of those that went before us,” said Leslie. “But I think we also have a very diverse population today that has been ravaged by war, and our kids want to support each other and try to make (the world a better place).”

Other unique Remembrance Day services include those being held at Ferris elementary and at A.R. MacNeill secondary schools.

Ferris’ program will begin with a “Circle of Peace” in the hallways, as students listen to “It’s a Wonderful World.”

The students will then make their way to the gym to the sounds of “Colours of the Wind.”

Principal Diane Steele says the assembly will feature many classes “singing and presenting musically, and we will have a guest speaker, Chief Warrant Officer Scott Stewart.”

Students who are in cadets, scouts and girl guides will be wearing their uniforms and placing a ceremonial Remembrance Day wreath.

MacNeill’s leadership class, meanwhile, is organizing its school assembly.

Vice-principal Herj Ghaug explains that the class will be focusing on what occurs after the war.

“In this year’s Remembrance Day assembly, we will address the importance of acknowledging and helping those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as spreading awareness of this ongoing disorder.”

Spul’u’kwuks elementary teacher Susan Garrett has written a musical piece to be performed at the school’s Remembrance Day ceremony Nov. 10 by student flutist Jocelyn Ly and the school choir including Colin Lim, Nihali Mann and Evan Markel.


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