08 November 2006
LEST WE FORGET
I know it's early, but I have a good reason for talking about Remembrance Day (Veteran's Day?) today. See, when I first began teaching, I observed, with a fair amount of dismay, the lack of participation and understanding of my students when it came to the observation of November 11 as an important event on the calendar. Many students viewed it simply as a day free from school.
In my third year as a teacher, I jumped up on my soapbox, preparing my band and choir and classes for a short Remembrance Day presentation. I didn't ask permission from the administration because, as anyone in the teaching profession knows, it's easier and more expedient to ask for forgiveness than for permission.
Each subsequent year, my presentation grew a little and received more and more support, until it became a community-wide event. Now I've been doing it for ten years, and it's pretty well organized. Middle school classes prepare songs, poems and artwork with which they decorate the school. High school classes prepare writings on their thoughts about Remembrance Day, their own compositions, slideshows, Powerpoint presentations, and instrumental or vocal selections. Auditions are held, then a lottery choosing eleven from the best of the student presentations. Community leaders prepare readings and veterans talk about their memories. Of course, my band and choir practice selections which are automatically included in the proceedings.
It's a lot of work, especially as it falls at the same time as midterms and report cards, but it's incredibly rewarding to see the excitement generated around an event that had been heretofore pretty well neglected in this region. Most of the community turns out for the actual presentation here at the school, and attendance is up at the community Remembrance Day Ceremony on November 11, as well. I am proud of the students and the community for stepping up to the plate and taking this cause to heart. The veterans and the Ladies' Auxiliary, as well as our numerous peacekeepers, have been incredibly appreciative, and many are moved to tears by the respect demonstrated to them by our students, not only here in the school, but year round, out in the community.
It's amazing to see the far-reaching effects of this little project that I started. I am so proud of my school and their community for stepping up to the plate this way, and showing that they will not forget the sacrifices made for our freedom.