School observance brings Remembrance Day home to students
By Chris Woodall
What: Remembrance Day ceremonies
Where: Cenotaph, Whistler Fire Hall at Blackcomb Way
When: Tuesday, Nov. 11, beginning at 10:50 a.m.
There are many ways to make the annual observance of Remembrance Day relevant to Whistler school students, especially when it's student telling student.
Both elementary and secondary schools held their observance ceremonies this week. Schools will be closed Remembrance Day, Nov. 11, as a national holiday.
Myrtle Philip Elementary School is holding its observance today, Nov. 7, with a presentation of choir singing and skits by fellow students to help everyone understand the lessons that have come through the decades from Canada's participation in — and peacekeeping of — the world's conflicts.
A highlight of the ceremony will be a wreath laying at the stage podium.
Each class will have a wreath made by that class carried by a class representative.
At Whistler Secondary, teacher Gail Rybar's Grade 11 English class presented a vignette of poetry, readings and a slide show shown through the day, Wednesday, Nov. 5, to fellow students class-by-class.
The 10-minute presentation was staged in a school room, rather than the traditional auditorium setup, to help the audience focus on the words and performance of the observance, Rybar explained.
Readings came from a number of sources, including texts, that reflected the meaning of war, its influences and its outcomes over the ages, Rybar said, including excerpts from the autobiography of Whistler's Walter Zebrowski.
Among the themes touched on were reminding students that people from all over the world who now make Canada their home have been involved in conflicts of many sorts, not just the First and Second World Wars or the Korean civil war.
Some of the readings revealed how people in ages past thought of the heroics of war, others reminded us of the incidents we are less proud of, such as the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that hastened an end to the Second World War.
Participating students also read from people who were in the great wars, including a soldier's account of the horrific storm of battle that destroyed Newfoundland's involvement in the First War in one short day.
"The students also talk of building peace from the lessons of war," Rybar says. "Having the students in small groups makes the presentation more effective."
The Nov. 11 ceremonies at the cenotaph start at 10:50 a.m. with a short march by a colour party representing Whistler's bylaw and fire departments, and the RCMP, all bearing flags.
Hymns by Whistler adult and children’s choirs and prayers will accompany wreath laying at the cenotaph.
A cannon will be fired to signal two minutes silence at the stroke of 11 a.m. to mark the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 when armistice was declared to end the First World War.
The Whistler Rotary Club is sponsoring a community coffee and cake reception in the Fire Hall after the observance.