KCVI students mark Remembrance Day
Steeped in history its 226-year existence, Kingston Collegiate and Vocational Institute will close at the end of June 2019 and its staff and 900 students will move to the new school, Kingston Secondary School, next September
On Friday, KCVI students and staff marked the final Remembrance Day ceremony in the Frontenac Street school’s auditorium.
With KCVI being the only public high school in Kingston throughout the two world wars, drama teacher Kevin Fraser said before the ceremony that it is important that today’s youth recognize the sacrifices of those who came before them, especially the former students who gave their lives in both world wars.
“This school has always had a tradition of honouring the day as it was the only high school in Kingston at the time of the wars,” Fraser said.
“Everybody came here, if you were going to high school, you came to KC so consequently that’s one of the reasons we have so many names [of the war dead].”
“The day is really just about honouring that and making kids remember that a lot of them weren’t much older than they are now.”
Students from Fraser’s Grade 11 drama class, dressed in black shirts adorned with poppies and black pants, performed some scenes from the wars including enlisting in the military, saying goodbye to family, the horrors of war and coming home after the war and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and problems getting back to a normal family life.
During their presentation, the students read a real letter from a soldier to home.
A portion of Flanders Field was read and the drama students placed battery operated candles on the stage as the names of the more than 125 students and staff who died in both wars were read aloud.
The ceremony also marked Indigenous Veterans Day on Friday.
Indigenous people, Fraser said, fought for Canada in all the wars up to and including the war in Afghanistan.
“Despite not always getting treated with justice and respect here, they still took that on,” he said.
Student Robert MacLeod, also of the Princess of Wales Own Regiment, played the bagpipe during the ceremony and student Joey An played the Last Post.
The KCVI choir sang O’Canada to begin the ceremony and Imagine by John Lennon to wind up the hourlong service.
Principal Talya McKenna said it will not be the last Remembrance Day ceremony at the school, just the last one in the auditorium, everyone is picking up and moving to the new school and the tradition will continue.
According to retired teacher and unofficial KCVI historian George Dillon, the auditorium was built around 1930 and renovated in the late 1960s.
Flags of all provinces, military flags and donated flags from other countries hang on both sidewalls of the 900-seat auditorium.
“This auditorium is beautiful with lots of historic background and these ceremonies are wonderful, it’s the students that do the ceremony every year,” McKenna said.
She also said many historic items, including two copper plaques on the stair’s landing between the first and second floors that honour the fallen soldiers from the First and Second World Wars, will move to the new school.
As well, more than 125 photos and biographies of fallen students now displayed in the library from both world wars will move to the new school.
The project was initiated a number of years ago by now retired teacher Kevin Read.
“All these young men provided for us to have so much opportunity and wherever that opportunity takes us it behooves us to take hold of that opportunity and make the best of it,” Fraser said.
Student Robert MacLeod plays the bagpipes during the Remembrance ceremony in the auditorium at Kingston Collegiate and Vocational Institute on Friday afternoon.
A plaque commemorating students who died in the First World War hangs in the stairwell at Kingston Collegiate and Vocational Institute during the Remembrance ceremony in the KCVI auditorium on Friday.
A plaque commemorating students who died in the Second World War hangs in the stairwell at Kingston Collegiate and Vocational Institute during the Remembrance ceremony in the KCVI auditorium on Friday.