A class of Grade 4 Breslau Public School students were recognized last week for their exemplary Remembrance Day activities by the Ontario Legion. At an award ceremony at the Elmira division April 24, the students were awarded as the winners of the Ontario Command Remembrance video contest.
The competition, run province-wide by the Legion for different elementary school grades, tasked students with creating a three- to four-minute video on what Remembrance Day meant to them.
“I’m just really proud of the kids,” said Debby Pavlove, the class’ teacher who directed the project.
“The video was a collaborative effort with all of the students giving their opinions and providing feedback,” she said. “The kids were definitely the driving force behind a lot of the ideas and where it went.”
The class had originally started working together on a series of Remembrance Day projects, including poppy-making and a group art project, and had filmed the process. It was only after that they decided to turn their recordings into a video submission for the Legion’s Contest, chronicling their journey from start to finish and what they learned.
Those passing by the Elmira Legion building last November would have seen the student’s poppy display, a project which not only involved the class but the entire Breslau school. The students organized to have every staff and student at the school create one poppy and write their own message of Remembrance on the flower.
“There were over 700 poppies with a message of Remembrance and a name from staff and student from our school, and we felt it was important to get the whole community involved,” said Pavlove. “This was a smaller version of Tyne Cot Cemetery, which is one of the largest military cemeteries in the world where for the Battle of Passchendaele they had over 17,000 poppies on display.”
The flowers were planted first outside the Breslau school by the class and was then moved to the Elmira Legion.
“We were proud to have it on display at the Elmira Legion for their parade. Their parade took place a week before Remembrance Day so it was a great honour for us to be able to have the poppies placed there to be seen by the people who are involved in the Legion,” said Pavlove.
“And then the poppies were moved to Woodlawn Memorial Park where they were placed between the soldiers and veterans graves for their Remembrance Day service.”
Besides organizing the poppy project, the class also got together to create a highly symbolic art project in Remembrance. The project was based off a display that Pavlove had seen at the Passchendaele Museum, which was created using the identity tags that the soldiers had on during the War. When she told her class about it, they became interested in doing a similar project at home.
“After brainstorming with the students, we modified the project and decided to have a hundred Grades 3, 4 and 5 students write a hundred different words on identity tags and put it together to make a display, in order to honour the hundred years since the Battle of Passchendaele,” said Pavlove.
A further 16 green tags were added with the words “Remember” inscribed, one for every 1,000 casualties in the battle. A further 24 red tags were added to represent the age that Pavlove’s great-great-uncle William Barton reached before he fell at the battle. Red and green were the colours of Canadian’s wore during the war.
The award came attached with a small cash prize, which the students are hoping to put towards forwarding the Legion’s cause.