Morrisburg Public School commences perpetual project of Remembrance

Morrisburg Public School Grade 5/6 students with some of the research they have already done on their Remembrance Day Project are, front row, l-r, Skyla Jutras and Mia Akins, back row, Abbie Lalonde, Jacob Tripp and Preston Hubert. (The Leader/Gibb photo)

MORRISBURG – “Lest we forget…”

Teacher Sarah Barclay-Thomas and her Grade 5/6 class at Morrisburg Public School are determined not to forget the men and women who served Canada in the Great War, 1914-18, and in World War II, 1939-45.

The Morrisburg students are deeply involved in an ongoing project, whose aim is to research the stories of all the fallen from this community, their names engraved on Morrisburg’s cenotaph.

“Our goal is to connect our kids with the stories of those who stepped up to serve in times of war,” Barclay-Thomas explained. “Every year on Remembrance Day Morrisburg Public School holds a service, but we wanted to take it further, to have our students actually learn about those who served, and were lost in the wars. That way we know they won’t forget.”

Through meetings with seniors at the Hartford, and by building connections with members of the Royal Canadian Legion, the grade 5/6 students have learned a great deal about War and its cost.

Local churches have also provided information about those from their congregations who were lost.

During visits with some Hartford residents, the students gained first hand knowledge from some veterans, and also learned from family stories that had been passed down over the years.

Sometimes, the kids were confronted with memories that were difficult to hear. “One resident, who was very young at the time, shared with my students her tragic story of the Holocaust: she lost family members to this horror. It meant a lot to my kids to learn of this.”

The class originally went down to the memorial, and each child picked a name, with the goal of learning the true story of a certain soldier, an aviator, a sailor, a Nursing Sister, who served.

Students have since created binders about “their” fallen warriors, found newspaper articles, located family photos and studied Legion Wall of Honour photos. They have also linked into the Virtual War Museum Memorial site.

One wall of their MPS classroom is hung with pictures and articles they have already gathered.

A very important lesson which has come out of the school’s Remembrance Day Project is this. The young people have realized, “that these were real people, people who had lives here in our villages, lives and families that they left behind. They aren’t just some names carved on a stone column,” Barclay-Thomas said. “Every face, every name, has a story, and now this new generation is discovering those stories.”

The students are regularly joined by volunteers from the community, who help them in their research, make suggestions, indicate new directions to try. Sean Baker, Fred Langlotz, Joanne Baker and Blake Seward were with the students as they set to work on Monday, April 15.

Because there are many, many names on that stone cenotaph, even children who were just beginning school this year will one day also become part of the Remembrance Day Project.

Plans are currently in the works to take this class of 2024 to the National War Museum in Ottawa to experience first hand the realities of war.

This is a very special, on-going project that will ultimately involve almost every student at Morrisburg Public School.

“They will come away with a deeper appreciation of the sacrifices made by people from our community in the name of freedom,” said Barclay-Thomas. “Hopefully they will also gain a deeper understanding of the causes of war.”

And perhaps this generation of young Canadians may also be able to find ways to see that such wars never happen again. One thing is certain: because of this special school project, the students of Morrisburg P.S. “will never forget.”

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