A group of students from Almonte’s R. Tait McKenzie Public School gathered at Auld Kirk Cemetery on Wednesday, Nov. 8 for a unique, hands-on act of remembrance to honour fallen military veterans.
The ceremony, held in conjunction with the No Stone Left Alone (NSLA) Memorial Foundation, saw the Grade 6 students placing hand-painted stone poppies at the foot of veterans headstones. A simple, personal act the NSLA hopes will provide youth with an authentic experience that creates knowledge, understanding and appreciation of those who serve and of the sacrifice of Canada’s fallen.
Approximately 100 veterans have been laid to rest at the cemetery.
Master Warrant Officer Mike Wiggins guided the students through the ceremony. “In doing so, each child will have the opportunity to kneel at the grave, place the stone, say the veterans name and then pause for a moment of reflection” Wiggins said. “It’s a great opportunity to visit the graveyards and to realize that there are folks here, folks all around, that have military service and folks who grieve the loss of many of those people right here in town, and right across Canada.”
“I was impressed with the kids and how much effort they put into this. When they came here, they were engaged and took what they learned in class out here with enthusiasm. There was respect, and they related it back to the history of their town,” teacher Jean Grant-Kearney said of the activity.
Grade 6 student Deegan Dolan also appreciated the real-world learning experience.“I really liked today’s experience, it informs you way more to have an in-person visit to a place that is much of our history and many others.”
“I think just seeing how many of those graves there is, it’s just really eye opening,” added grade 6 student Preston Macrillo.
During the activity, Wiggins also highlighted the headstone belonging to WWI veteran George B. Monterville. Although being laid to rest at the local cemetery, Monterville’s name is missing from the Almonte Cenotaph.
Students are hoping this oversight can be remedied, and give Monterville the recognition he deserves, with a new real-world learning project now underway to find answers.