Pupils' reflections on Remembrance Day - why it matters

Art, music and Google Maps has helped to bring home to pupils why Remembrance Day matters 100 years after the start of The First World War.

Carshalton Boys Sports College School Reporters reflect on the day.

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Image caption Pupils learned about WWI by plotting the Western Front on Google Maps and building model trenches

Moving Armistice Day

Carshalton Boys Sports College held Lower and Upper School assemblies to commemorate the centenary of The First World War.

We learnt about how Armistice Day was introduced in 1919 and then how in 1939 it was moved to being commemorated on a Sunday, so that essential work for the Second World War was not interrupted.

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Image caption Dedicated Upper and Lower school Remembrance Services were held during assembly

After the conflict of 1939 - 1945 Armistice Sunday became known as Remembrance Sunday and we now reflect on the soldiers who gave their lives for us during all wars.

We also remember the families of the fallen and those who fought and survived.

During part of our assembly we learnt about how IRA terrorists attacked a Remembrance parade in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, killing 11 and injuring dozens of others.

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Image caption Regan's poem forms the basis of the new school memorial

Our assemblies set the tone for the day and focused our minds on the sacrifices and suffering which have taken place over the last 100 years.

Our local MP Tom Brake (Lib Dem, Carshalton and Wallington) came to visit the school. He was interested to see the art work that Year 10 GCSE art students have produced.

Mr Brake said: "It is important to reflect and think about the circumstances soldiers faced."

"Politicians have a huge responsibility, as they ultimately decide whether it will be beneficial to send troops into conflict," he added.

It was interesting to hear his point of view as someone who could be part of making the decision as to when/whether our country goes to war.

We had several other school visitors who were interested in the lessons taking place, including the Under Secretary of State for Communities, Stephen Williams. We showed them an IT class that was using Google Maps to plot the Western Front, an art class that was making poppies, and a science class that was learning how Morse code and electricity were used to communicate during the war.

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Family connections

Some students were translating a poem called 'Waiting' into Spanish that was written by one of our pupils Regan.

During our lessons our teachers were telling us about their family connections with the First World War. Mrs Ashford, for example, said that both of her grandfathers fought in the war, one lost a leg and the other was so traumatised by his experiences that he was never able to work again.

Year 9 history students were very lucky to be given a talk by a local historian, Andrew Arnold, who had researched the local men of Carshalton and their involvement in the war. They found out that from just one nearby road, 47 men had enlisted.

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'We will remember'

At 11 O'clock the whole school came together for the Last Post ceremony. A bugler played this for us signalling the start of our two minutes silence.

We all fell quiet and contemplated those who had made the ultimate sacrifice as well as those who had contributed to the war effort in some way. As one of our History teachers, Mr Farr, said later, "11 O'clock is personal to every individual and is a time where we can reflect upon the losses endured."

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Our head boy and head girl then read the poem, "At the going down of the sun, We will remember them". After this wreaths were laid by Stephen Williams, MP, Mr Barber, (our principal ) and Sam and Regan, who took part in the government-funded trips to the Battlefields of Belgium and France.

The wreaths were dedicated to those who died in the First World War and were placed beneath the new school memorial which is a silhouette of a soldier and contains the words of Regan's poem. We all walked passed the wreaths and memorial in our tutor groups, so we could pay our respects, and each tutor group lay a cross of remembrance.

Josh in Year 9 played the military drum for us as we filed by the memorial and JP, who is an army cadet from Year 10, had the Union Jack on parade.

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Every student we spoke to commented on how much they had enjoyed their lessons and how it had broadened their knowledge of the impact of war. They also felt they now understood the purpose and poignancy of remembrance more deeply.

The result was best summed up by a Year 9 student, who said, "Today has been brilliant. I have learnt so much, but more importantly, understand why I have been learning about it. "

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