For the students who organized the service, the hope was the annual Remembrance Day ceremony at St. Augustine School would be reflective of the occasion.
The ceremony, held Nov. 9 and organized by the Grade 9 students, was attended by junior and senior high classes as well as members of the 65 Squadron Ponoka Air Cadets and special guests, Ponoka RCMP Staff Sgt. Mike Numan and Sybil Evans, Royal Canadian Legion Ponoka branch past-president.
Evans, the guest speaker for the service, focussed on how the students and all Canadians can continue to display that support of all those qualities that many soldiers sacrificed their lives for.
“We come together this week not to celebrate war, but to pause, to give thanks and to remember those that gave and are still giving to their country…and in some cases gave their lives so that we have the opportunity to live with the freedom we enjoy,” she said.
Evans reminded the students that this freedom and good life that Canadians gained as result of the efforts of Canadian soldiers in First World War, Second World War, Korean War and other conflicts and peacekeeping efforts come with a bit of a catch.
“It’s our responsibility to do what we can to afford the same opportunity to those that have not always had the privileges that we have. It is our responsibility to see that veterans are shown genuine appreciation and that they and their families are cared for and it’s our responsibility to ensure that the sacrifices made and all they stand for are never taken for granted or forgotten.”
She then commended the students and staff at St. Augustine for doing such a good job on the events that mark Canada’s history — including the Remembrance Day program and huge participation in the Legion’s literary/poster contest.
Regarding this event and others the school holds, principal Kevin Prediger explained it’s all a part of their leadership development program that sees each grade level, with prep assistance from teachers, organize and operate a variety of events throughout the school year.
“You never know who those leaders will eventually be, so as educators, we owe it to the students and we have a responsibility to foster good citizens,” said Prediger.
He added that the service is especially important for the school given its vast multicultural student population.
“It is important for all of our students but especially for those newer Canadians to understand and learn about Canada’s history and why we are living in the society we have today,” he said.