Remembrance Day Ceremony 2022
Every day we walk by the WWI and WWII bronze memorial plaques in the school lobby. Every year we read their names at our Remembrance Day ceremony but up until recently we did not really know who they were as students here or what happened to them in the war. Eight years ago, our former principal Michael Cristofaro asked me if I could do something with the pictures of our Westmount High School men that are stored in the school’s archives and who sadly, died in WWII.
My grade 10 history students began researching who these Westmount men were. Eight years later this massive research project is now complete and all 141 names have been researched and profiled on our school website. The Westmount High School Memorial Project has allowed dozens of students to embark on an epic history research project that teaches us about the lives and sacrifices beyond the names on the plaque. Students discovered our WHS men served and died along the Western Front, in the Normandy landing, at Juno Beach, Dunkirk, the Dieppe Raid, the Invasion of Sicily, in Gemmano, Italy, in Holland, Belgium, in the Battle of Britain, in Northern Ireland, in the North African campaign in Tunisia, in Singapore, Myanmar, Congo, over Germany, torpedoed at sea in the north Atlantic and some died closer to home in the Gulf of Saint Laurence, in Nova Scotia, in Ontario and in a plane crash in Dorval. They were on the Westmount basketball, track, ski and hockey teams. They were writers and artists. They had dreams that were cut short because they sacrificed themselves and taught us what is means to serve, stand up and take the place of another to fight for what they believed in.
Today we say their names and appreciate all that we can enjoy but they never had the chance to experience. We say their names to honour their sacrifice and let them and their families know they are not forgotten. Although our school looks differently than what it did during the 1930s and 40s, our alumni are a part of us now, of our school and our 150th legacy. May they never be forgotten. I’d also like to acknowledge and give thanks for the contributions of Indigenous, Black, Asian and women veterans who contributed and continue to serve Canada. May we continue to find peace in our lives and may they inspire us to stand up for what we believe in.
At this time I would like to take a moment to thank the many people who have helped students along the way with this project:
Michael Cristofaro- for sparking the idea and giving me access to all the historical documents for our students.
The current Mayor of Westmount, Mayor Christine Smith, and former Mayor Peter Trent- thank you for visiting my classes, encouraging my students with your leadership, and making students feel their voice and contributions are important because you all are. Thank you for supporting public education.
Dr. Anthony Chiasson, Chief of Westmount Archives- merci pour laisser mes élèves toucher les documents de la Ville de Westmount et surtout les inspirer a découvrir l’amour que vous possédez pour l’histoire.
Lieutenant Colonel Robinson and Melanie Dumais of the Royal Montreal Regiment in Westmount for all your support over the years.
Emine Arslan Avci, the EMSB Webmaster for making the students’ work look so professional online.
Thank you to our vice Principals Matt Shapiro and Laura Fuimidinisi and our principal Demetra Droutsis for supporting this project and all your encouragement over the years.
Thank you to Ms. Sipos, Mr. Cox, Ms. Mapp and our Spiritual Animator Samantha Smith for preparing our students for the beautiful ceremony today.
Lastly, thank you to the senior social sciences teachers for your support over the years: Minnie Bouvy, Christina Drakopoulos, Rob Green and Marc Bedard.