Students from grades 5-7 in Kerrisdale Elementary's MACC program commemorated the battle of Vimy Ridge with a portrayal of 16 Canadian World War I heroes.
The bright galleria of Oakridge Mall played host to the presentation, titled Canada's Journey to Nationhood: How WWI shaped the Canadian identity, by the multi-age cluster class (MACC) of gifted, high achievers.
Lead teacher Christine Barber described it as an interactive timeline and museum. Each student, in full period costume, performed a short dramatization in both English and French for spectators who move around a space crowded with displays of posters, models and historic artifacts. Many of the characters being so earnestly depicted are familiar, like poet and physician John McCrae; flying ace Billy Bishop, military strategist Julian Byng, suffragette Nellie McClung, and prime ministers Wilfrid Laurier and Robert Borden. Others are anonymous: a French Canadian farmer, a female munitions worker, a displaced child, and the Unknown Soldier.
Audience members came away from the vignettes genuinely moved. "They're really sparkly kids," said one. "The kids have worked really hard," said one mom as she completed the tour with tears in her eyes. "A special shout out to Madame Barber who inspires love of learning and asking questions," added another. Parents also acknowledged the work of music and drama teacher Mark Kershaw, who collaborated on the production and helped the students write musical motifs for their characters.
The class had been working on this project since December, researching, writing, building, collecting and sewing. They have submitted the presentation to Heritage Fair, a yearly educational initiative that encourages dynamic, hands-on exploration of Canadian heritage, and performed at Simon Fraser University. "I really wanted to bring it to the public," said Barber.