One hundred years ago Canada’s bravest soldiers fought at Vimy Ridge in what was to become an iconic battle in the “War to End All Wars”.
To mark the centennial, students from Leaside High School (LHS) plan to bring that fateful story to life through both the past and the present, in recollections about soldiers who took part in the battle as well as through the visitors to the Vimy Ridge Memorial today.
In a special assembly, students will incorporate into a play messages engraved in the walls of a nearby cave by soldiers about to go into battle, while music and dance sequences will connect the different parts of the play.
Remembrance Day has always been much more than just a November day on the calendar for the staff and students at Leaside High. As Milena Ivkovic, the Curriculum Leader of Social Sciences at Leaside, said, “It is an opportunity to honour those who fought for us to help us to realize how lucky we are, and to thank those who risked their lives and their loved ones for us. Having an assembly matters because we are blessed to live in this country and we should appreciate the freedoms we have.”
Ms. Ivkovic has been the driving force behind the Remembrance Day Assembly for the past two years, and is now hard at work on this year’s project. The first step in the process for Ms. Ivkovic is to come up with a vision for a multi-faceted theatre experience including the elements of drama, music and dance. Next, she brainstorms ideas with other teachers such as Karlea Kimmel, the Curriculum Leader for the Arts; music teacher Lauren Simmons; Sonya Ugarkovic, a drama teacher and the staff advisor for the dance club; and Caralin Fleet, a social science and drama teacher. Then she pitches the ideas to her classes, where she never has any trouble enlisting many enthusiastic volunteers.
Students and staff collaborate to come up with an appropriate and appealing format. Much of the presentation is based on assignments completed for drama and history classes. For example, last year’s assembly, entitled “Voices of War,” was based largely on an assignment where students wrote ”Postcards from the Trenches,” which were fictional, but based on real stories from their reading about war experiences.