Video puts Remembrance Day in perspective

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Braidyn Simpson places a wreath at the cenotaph on behalf of Picture Butte High School students.

PICTURE BUTTE – Principal Mark Lowe spoke of his father-in-law, who enlisted with the Hungarian army at the age of 17.  Palliser Regional Schools’ Associate Superintendent Ken Garinger recounted differing war experiences for his grandfathers and Trustee Craig Whitehead shared a story of a relative, a gunner whose Lancaster bomber was blasted out of the skies.

Stories of duty, sacrifice and loss, however, might have held little relevance with many of the students at Picture Butte High School’s Remembrance Day ceremony if not for the efforts of Isabelle Ramsden, Shaelee Sawa, Daisy Teneycke, Teigan Vanderkooi and friends.

The assembly, which saw students from Huntsville School in Iron Springs and Dorothy Dalgliesh School  in Picture Butte join their hosts from PBHS, marked the debut of the media students’ video, “At What Cost.” The production featured the stories of soldiers off to war and the families they left behind.

Teneycke said there was a conscious decision to tell stories from a perspective students could relate to.

“Everyone talks about wives who have husbands who go off to war, but it’s not often from the kid’s perspective,” said the Grade 11 student. “So a lot of it is coming from the kids and talking about what they go through and the different sacrifices that a range of people make, rather than just the soldiers.”

While Lowe challenged his media students to come up with a special video for the assembly, Sawa said they were given the freedom to come up with the storyline and script. With a cast of drama students and a few teachers for their period piece, they chose to go the silent movie route with voiceovers allowing viewers to share in the correspondence between soldiers on the front and their children back home.

Although some 250 hours were put into the video in total and it underwent numerous edits, Vanderkooi admitted all involved were a little anxious as the debut approached.

“We’re excited for people to see it and how much hard work we put into it,” she said, just minutes before the assembly began. “It’s very nerve-wracking to see the reaction of people.”

They needn’t have worried. The entire assembly – from video to poetry and musical performances from students at all three schools – was warmly applauded by students, staff and parents.

“At What Cost” was a learning opportunity not only for those watching it, but also those involved in the production.

“I had a better understanding If my dad went off to war, how it would feel having him gone and having him fight for our country,” said Ramsden.

The event wrapped up with students, some of them carrying flags of all the provinces and territories, marching to the cenotaph to lay wreaths.