Langley School District Remembers

November 10, 2022

Remembrance Day – and its importance – can be a difficult concept for young children to grasp, but students at Gordon Greenwood Elementary have an excellent person to teach them in Deanna Forrest.

Forrest, a Grade 6 teacher at the Walnut Grove school, spent a dozen years in the Canadian Army Reserves before trading in her international peacekeeping duties for a career in education. Though her military career ended in 2002, she still considers it an important part of her life today, which is why she has always taken an active role in the school’s Remembrance Day ceremonies includuing this year.

It’s important, she said, that students of all ages understand that Remembrance Day is not only about honouring soldiers from long-ago wars, but also veterans and active members of more modern military operations and peacekeeping efforts.

“Most children think of veterans as serving members of past World Wars. (But) our military is still active (at) home… and (in) world conflict,” Forrest said. “Students are often surprised to hear about the role of our military in modern day.

“Remembrance Day is an opportunity to expose students to a deeper understanding of these service men and women, both from past and present day.”

Forrest’s own path to serving her country began when she was 18 years old. Forrest spent 12 years with the reserves, including time with the United Nations on peacekeeping missions, including in a region of Israel-occupied Syria in 2000.

“I felt like I was truly making a difference in the world, with my service to the military (both in Canada and abroad) combined with the overseas mission work I was involved in. Service sometimes looked like completing mundane tasks, but the moments of personal connection with nationals and fellow members were the highlight of my experiences.”

Being in the reserves, Forrest noted, provided her flexibility in focusing on what type of training opportunities she pursued, and she was always drawn to teaching, or roles that would expose her to “varied experiences and cultures.”

“The exposure I had to local children in Israel and Syria drew me in with a desire to invest in children, with the goal of making a difference in their day to day lives,” she said. “Creating a safe space, where children know they belong, in a predictable, accepting environment is my daily goal as a classroom teacher.”

Forrest continues to discuss her experiences with her students in order to help them “develop empathy and support, and to ignite an interest in these students, our future men and women, who may choose to serve their communities and country in this way.”

Remembering across the District

At Gordon Greenwood Elementary, a Remembrance Day presentation was held in the gym, and students, staff and parents learned about the sacrifices that Canada’s veterans made in past wars. The event, which was MC’d by two Grade 7 students also included a short speech from Sgt. David Scrivens from the Canadian Armed Forces, who briefly shared with the students some stories of his own overseas military deployments. Each class also designed its own wreath, which was laid it at the front of the stage at the start of the ceremony. The school’s Grade 6s recited “In Flanders Fields” while the school’s youngest students, in Kindergarten and Grade 1, also recited a poem about poppies.

Over to Alice Brown Elementary, where students and staff welcomed parents and guardians to the school to take part in the Alice Brown Remembers ceremony. Members of the school community were invited to share photos of their past and present family members which were on display in a slideshow. As part of the presentation, students laid wreaths on a cenotaph with a backdrop of photos of Langley veterans.

Nicomekl Elementary set-up a gallery walk in their school gym for students and staff to experience. Blacklock Fine Arts Elementary observed Remembrance Day with a number of activities including an interpretive dance. The District is proud of our students and staff and their work in sharing their Remembrance Day learning with the wider community.

View photos in this gallery below to see events that took place across the District.

Gordon Greenwood Elementary