Grade 10 History students just returned from Ypres (Ieper) Wednesday evening after an intense five-day learning experience that is sure to leave a lasting impression.
The highlight of the trip was the Platoon Experience, where students were able to get a look at the struggles of individual soldiers in an up-close and personal way that cannot be experienced in the classroom. Students respectfully took on the identity of an actual Australian soldier, wore his uniform, marched his march, ate his meal, learned his role within his platoon, drilled the techniques he needed to survive and discovered his fate. This exercise was respectfully performed in replica gear sponsored by the Australian Embassy. It was physically demanding, but our students were up to the challenge.
The trip also consisted of two workshops (Into the Trenches and Empires at War), two museum visits (Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 and In Flanders Fields Museum), visits to German and British cemeteries, a visit to Hill 60 (site of the largest man-made non-nuclear explosion, which was reportedly heard as far away as Dublin), a visit to Menin Gate (memorial dedicated to British and Commonwealth soldiers who died in the Ypres Salient and whose graves are unknown), visits to actual and replica trenches and a screening of the 2010 Australian film Beneath Hill 60.
Students not only worked hard on this trip, they also played hard. They visited Bellewaerde Amusement Park and a haunted house, played football, shot pool, met “space cadets” and sang their hearts out on the bus. Many even stayed up past the official bedtime… to get work done for other classes. Parents, don’t be surprised if your budding historians are exhausted this weekend!