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English Montreal School Board students keep First World War memories alive

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A century removed from the violence and bloodshed, children at the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) keep the lessons of the First World War alive.

If you ask Grade 6 students at Gerald McShane Elementary in Montreal North about the musical version of In Flanders Fields, they often point out that low notes can be challenging.

For teacher Daniela Alongi, the themes of death and sacrifice come through in an important teaching moment.

"It's a poem that they usually learn with their homeroom teachers," said Alongi. "But when we put it to music, I think it becomes more meaningful to them."

"I think about the soldiers who died for our country," said Grade 6 student Eva Ferrara, reflecting on the song.

Over at Leonardo da Vinci School nearby in Riviere-des-Prairies, students learn about the sacrifices not only made by soldiers, but also by women during the war.

Without them "working in the factories, people wouldn't eat. They wouldn't get their food on time," said Justin Rakowski, a Grade 6 student there.

To teach a topic that's by now more than 100 years removed from the present day isn't the easiest, but as Remembrance Day approaches, the students are developing a newfound understanding of wartime sacrifices.

"It is a little bit difficult because they didn't live in that period of time," said Sabrina Gavita, a teacher at Leonardo da Vinci. "But honestly, many of them are understanding of the dynamic." 

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