By James Matthews
Haliburton Highlands Secondary School students have taken an active role in remembering Canada’s fallen soldiers and their sacrifices.
The local high school will have a pair of assemblies for students as part of observing Remembrance Day on Nov. 11. The gatherings will include an historical piece, some dramatic and musical performances, the Haliburton County Honour Roll, and the obligatory laying of wreaths in memory of soldiers who died fighting in our county’s wars.
Students in Grades 9 and 12 will take in the first assembly, while Grades 10 and 11 students will fill out the audience for the following assembly.
Paul Longo, a history teacher at the school, said student involvement is the best teaching tool.
“We try to get as much student involvement as possible in the assembly,” he said. “We try to build an assembly that’s mostly student-driven with student performances and student work. That’s the goal.”
A leadership student at the school will be tapped to host the assemblies.
The national anthem will open the event before historical accounts of Canada’s involvement in the last century’s armed conflicts will be read. And, in keeping with student involvement in learning, the school’s drama class will perform.
“They usually come up with all kinds of stuff,” Longo said. “It could be a skit. It could be monologues. It could be music. And it could be all three of those things.”
Students in the school’s media arts class will also contribute something to further make the assemblies come alive.
“We have a 20-minute video that we’ve made up about the Haliburton County Honour Roll,” Longo said.
That’s the names listed at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 129, the county’s sons who died in the First World War and the Second World War.
Longo said they digitized the service files of the local fallen and those are used in conjunction with the Canadian Virtual War Memorial.
“We put a pretty cool thing together there,” he said.
The assembly will culminate with wreaths laid in memory and Last Post played.
“We put a lot of time and effort into it,” Longo said.
And, that time and effort is an effective learning tool. Student involvement makes an impression deeper than words read or heard.
“Over the years, I’ve learned the more the kids take control of this and own it, then the more valuable it is for everybody,” Longo said.