Did you notice the person who stood behind the school beside the array of posters, pictures, and infographics pinned up against the fence? Did you wonder who that person was? Or what he was standing by? For two weeks leading up to Remembrance Day, there was an exhibit set up outside Nepean High School. Kalan Saunder, an army cadet who attends Nepean, and our librarian, Ms. Mackechnie organized the “We Remember Learning Walk”.
Spring of 2020, Ms. Mackechnie learned about the idea of a learning walk from another teacher-librarian in Toronto, who took apart story books and pinned them on fences, and hung them from trees. At that time, libraries were closed, and librarians had to be creative in ways to bring learning outside their spaces. Last year was her first year running the exhibit. When she met Kalan through Ms. Hamilton this year, she hoped he could talk to students about his experiences.
Kalan is an army cadet, who is ranked 2nd year guardman. He talked to me about his different responsibilities, like engaging the lower ranks, selling poppies around Remembrance Day, and raising money for different events.
With his proximity to the military, he said, “When you know more about it, it’s easier to value it, so if someone doesn’t know anything about it, and they don’t value it, it isn’t their fault.” At Nepean, like many other schools, Remembrance Day is a day of learning, and reflection. Thanks to the exhibit, our learning has been extended to the two weeks leading up to November 11th, as well as the day itself.
“It was important to have ... people from a lot of different backgrounds.” Kalan talks about the soldiers who have served for Canada; the exhibit looks at the World Wars with a diverse lens, which, unfortunately, isn’t something that has always been done in the past. The military is composed of all kinds of people, and they made sure that the exhibit reflected that. Students from all over Nepean had the chance to learn about the #1 Indigenous sniper from World War
One, and the first Black Battalion. Different posters, and QR codes, as well as having the chance to talk to Kalan, and ask him questions, were all key parts of the experience.
Teachers signed their classes up for half an hour time slots, through a google sheet. The learning walk had great turnout, with a variety of classes all throughout the grades. With the positive feedback from teachers last year, Ms. Mackechnie decided to keep the exhibit open longer this year, spanning five and half days in total and spread over the past two weeks.
Overall, the exhibit was a wonderful success! We at Nepean are so grateful to have met, and learned from Kalan. We are anticipating the return of the We Remember Learning Walk next year.