by Patricia Fowler

I congratulate New Horizons School in Sherwood Park on their stellar Remembrance Day program that was a positive learning experience for everyone involved.

Two days before Remembrance Day, the Grades 4/5 class and their teacher hosted Mr. Hank Perry from the Sherwood Park, Eric Cormack Branch 277 of the Royal Canadian Legion as a guest speaker. Mr. Perry spoke to the class as a World War Two Veteran Pilot of the 407 Demon Squadron, in the Royal Canadian Air Force. After Mr. Perry told of his plane being shot down over the Irish Sea and his subsequent rescue; he was delighted to learn that the teacher's Grandfather was in the Navy during WWII and served on a ship that performed similar high seas rescues off the coast of England. Upon mentioning his friend in the Polish Army, the class learned that a student's Grandfathers were both in the Polish Army in WWII and felt proud to be one of Canada's Allies. As each story intertwined into the other, everyone was impressed by the remarkable coincidence and inspired by the power that results from cooperation and good will.

Mr. Perry brought his leather flight jacket and leather aviator's hat that he wore during WWII and let the children take turns trying them on, he answered the many questions the children asked, for over an hour. A few days earlier, after the Grades 4/5 teacher told the students about her Grandfather's experiences in WWII, the students were encouraged to write about Remembrance Day and to research about their own family Heroes. At the students' request, Mr. Perry graciously autographed their poems and stories.

Mr. Perry returned to New Horizons School on Nov. 10th to speak to the entire student body and listen to a play about Remembrance Day presented by the Grades 5/6 class. His informative yet sensitive speech held the attention of the very youngest Kindergarten student to the eldest, in grade nine. At the stroke of 11:00 am Mr. Perry led the school in a Two-Minute Silence while the Grades 5/6 teacher played The Last Post on the flute.

After the general assembly Mr. Perry was invited to the grades 6/7 class to answer all their questions. When the class wondered what Mr. Perry thought of war, and if he would do it again, he confessed that while having many memories that still haunt him about the war, he also remembers having a few good times too. However, upon due consideration and all the years that he's spent reflecting on his experiences, Mr. Perry is convinced that war solves nothing. WWI was supposed to be the war to end all Wars. Instead all it bought is more War, as the world went on to fight in WWII, Korea, Vietnam and continue to deploy PeaceKeepers to all the hot spots in the world.

On his way out of the school, after he thanked the Principal for inviting him to speak, Mr. Perry volunteered his services as a story reader to the younger grades at the school, which was graciously accepted. Later, while the children played outside they wondered what Mr. Perry was like at their age. After much discussion the group concluded that they probably wouldn't be able to tell Mr. Perry apart from the rest of the class, as he would be just like them. There was little doubt in the children's minds that they could be a hero too, if they work hard and do what needs to be done, letting the hero side of their own characters out like Mr. Perry did. As they ran off to play I know their favorite games involved many heroes with the same first names as their own.

We truly live in a great community, amidst thriving kids who have stellar Canadian Heroes to look up to.


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Copyright (c) 1997-2000 - Pat Fowler