History buffs can always rely on Europe to give them a perspective on past wars. St. Augustine Catholic School used their travel club as a tool to learning about the First and Second World Wars, explained social studies teacher Darren Josephison.
The club made tours to Vimy Ridge and Juno Beach and travelled to France, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland to tie in with students’ curriculum.
“I wanted to get to Canadian military sites,” said Josephison.
Students also brought a $500 donation from the Ponoka Legion to give to Vimy Ridge fundraising efforts. For Cole Howlett-McAuley, Grade 9, the trip was a lesson on the effects of war, especially at cemeteries where tombstones would stretch an entire area. “I found the unnamed tombstones very grounding.”
Vimy Ridge could be seen from quite far away as the monument is large and sits atop a hill.
“It was plain but still very beautiful,” he added.
Anastasia Johnson, Grade 11, was also awed by Vimy Ridge. “The monument was the main focus in that area.”
The trip was held March 20 to 31; it was quite cold despite a clear sunny day when students went to Vimy Ridge, she added.
Josephison hopes students can bring their experience back to classmates. He feels travelling to Europe is not just to learn about the wars but also to gain some cultural experience. “I’m hoping they can kind of share that and pass it on.”
Howlett-McAuley was also surprised at how many fallen soldiers there are who cannot be identified. This left him thinking about how war can affect people’s lives.
Besides Vimy Ridge, Johnson also enjoyed seeing the European cities — with some being better than others. “It’s a toss-up between Paris and Munich.”
Not only was it a chance for Josephison to teach students on war history but also to show students some of the differences with industry. Alternative power such as solar panels and windmills is prevalent in the countries they visited.
Smoking, which used to be widely accepted inside buildings, is not allowed compared to even a few years ago. But cigarettes and animal waste can still be found on city streets, he added.
Students from St. Augustine shared the trip with those from St. Anthony Catholic School in Drayton Valley. There were 21 travellers from St. Augustine and 31 from Drayton Valley.