Trinity Conception students look forward to Beaumont Hamel visit
Heather Hollett of Dildo and Acacia Puddester of Northern Bay have never met, but the two teenagers share similar talents that have earned them a trip to Beaumont Hamel this summer.
Hollett, a Level 3 student at Crescent Collegiate in Blaketown and Puddester, Level 1 at Baccalieu Collegiate in Old Perlican, are among the 2008 provincial winners in the Royal Canadian Legion’s Remembrance Poem, Poster and Essay Contest.
Hollett, representing the Royal Canadian Legion Sgt. Levi Hollett Branch 39, won the Senior Black and White Poster category, while Puddester, representing Branch 23 in Carbonear, took first place in the Senior Poem category. Both branches fall under District Two of the Royal Canadian Legion. The other winners from the province also going on the trip are Carrie Ann Sweetapple, (Colour Poster) of Glovertown Academy, Branch 41 and Jillian Stuckless, ( Essay) of Elwood Regional High, Branch 3, Deer Lake.
The contest, sponsored annually by Royal Canadian Legion Provincial Command, is designed to promote the theme of Remembrance amongst today’s youth.
Each year, through creative writings and drawings, students from schools all over the province honour the supreme sacrifice given by thousands of Canadian soldiers for the preservation of peace. Submissions are judged regionally in the categories of junior, intermediate and senior divisions (first second and third awards) and then forwarded to the Royal Canadian Legion Provincial Command office in St. John’s for the provincial competition. Along with being selected as the best in the province, winners in the senior categories are awarded a trip to France to tour the various memorials and to participate in the July 1 Remembrance Day ceremonies.
Both Hollett and Puddester are looking forward to being able to stand on foreign soil and pay their respects to the 733 men in the First Newfoundland Regiment who were either killed or wounded during the battle of Beaumont Hamel on July 1, 1916.
“Being there and seeing the graves belonging to all those soldiers and thinking about how hard they fought and how much we owe them will no doubt be an emotional experience,” says Hollett.“I’m looking forward to learning more about the war and the part Newfoundlanders played in it.”
“I’ve seen all the memorials of Beaumont Hamel and read about the battle in textbooks, but to think that I’m actually going to be able to stand there is crazy,” adds Puddester. “I can’t wait to go.”
In designing her black and white poster, Hollett tried to put herself in a soldier’s place.
“I wanted to evoke emotion through my poster,” she says.” I wanted it to mean something, to make people appreciate the sacrifice that was made and make them ponder over war itself. In order to do this I had to design the poster from a soldier’s viewpoint.”
Hollett’s poster shows a soldier standing behind a group of headstones with mountains and an old battleground in the distance.
“He’s looking out over the graves of his friends, his counterparts and thinking about them,” explains Hollett. “He’s analyzing the war, its worth and what it has cost him.”
Hollett used a number of drawing techniques, learned during Art class at Crescent Collegiate, to bring the poster to life.
“I did a lot of in-depth shading and texturizing for the grass and tress,” she said.“And my art teacher Mr.(Pheilm) Martin kept encouraging me to take it further, to improve it. He kept telling me I had something good going and to expand on it. So I took it home and worked on it a little there as well.”
While the honour roll French Emersion student obviously had a flair for sketching, she wasn’t too fussy about taking an art class in the beginning.
“I did everything I could to get out of it,” she says. “But I needed a couple of credits in Fine Arts and I’m not into the acting thing. My schedule in school was so tight, art was my only option, but I’m really glad I did take it now because aside from the fact that it earned me this trip, I really learned a lot.”
For the past 10 years George Brown, chairman of the Sergeant Levi Hollett Branch 39 Youth and Education Committee has been promoting the theme of Remembrance through the poetry, essay and poster contest to students from schools in Trinity Bay.
“This is the eighth time in nine years that a student from Crescent has come first and won a trip to Beaumont Hamel,” Brown points out. “That’s a huge accomplishment.”
According to Brown the level of interest and the number of awards going to students in schools under District 2 of the Royal Canadian Legion speaks well of the level of talent and commitment to the contest by teachers and students in the area.
“The Legion and the schools have really partnered on this and because of that partnership there’s a deeper appreciation for Remembrance and the sacrifice that was given for freedom during past and current wars among our young people,” he says.
“Our young people are more aware of what is happening in the world than ever before and are following world events closely. The reality of war, the cost of freedom and the sacrifice to preserve is hitting closer to home all the time. Many of these students have family members who have been called to duty and they realize the risk that accompanies serving your country, it isn’t just about peace keeping anymore.
“The Legion has an excellent rapport with the schools involved in the contest and the teachers really work with the students by help-
ing, guiding and supporting them with their entries,” he said.“The calibre of talent increases each year and it gets harder and harder to pick winners.There are some really good art and literary programs in our schools and excellent teachers to support them.”
Theme of Remembrance
When Puddester sat down to write her award-winning poem, she says she compared her life to that of a soldier. Her poem, aptly entitled Life summarizes the day-to-day happenings of a teenager as opposed to a soldier going to war.
“If our soldiers didn’t go to war to protect our freedom and rights our lives would be drastically affected,” says Puddester.
Her poem reads: While you listen to the song of a celebrity you admire You can’t hear the moan of a soldier caught in barbed wire. While you fear of not getting asked to the prom A soldier fears of getting killed by a bomb. While you’re on the beach with your toes in the sand A soldier’s life is poised in fate’s hand. When you sit in your desk and start writing a poem A soldier writes his last letter home. Another solider died for you yesterday So how can you live your life this way? You fail to see that life costs a price That soldier’s life was the sacrifice.
Puddester wrote her poem during Language class at Baccalieu.
“Our teacher Mr.(Mark) Warren really encouraged us to put a lot of thought into it,” she says.
Puddester, who has been par- ticipating in the annual contest since Grade 6, has earned several awards. Both Puddester and Hollett believe the contest helps to keep the theme of Remembrance alive among young people.
“It really gets us thinking hard about the sacrifice for freedom,” says Puddester. “It’s a good way to get the message of Remembrance across to youth in a manner that causes us to reflect and to want to continue it.”
Numerous other students from schools within Trinity and Conception Bays also placed first, second and third in the contest.
The winners from Sgt. Levi Hollett Branch 39 were Claire Newhook, Crescent Collegiate, ( second place Intermediate Poem); Holly Thorne, Crescent (third place, Senior Black and White poster); Lexi Thorne,Woodland Elementary (second place, Primary Black and White Poster) and Brady Hoskins, Woodland Elementary (second place, Junior Essay).
Winners from Carbonear Branch 23 include Mark Blundon, Tricon Elementary (second place, Junior Black and White Poster); Michaela Garland, Baccalieu Collegiate (third place, Intermediate Poem); Tiffany Richards, Baccalieu (first place, Intermediate Poem) and Matthew Noonan, Baccalieu (second place, Senior Colour Poster).
Winners from Branch 9 in Spaniard’s Bay were Katrina Fillmore, Holy Redeemer school (second place, Junior Poem) and Kyleigh Mercer, Holy Redeemer (first place, Intermediate Essay).
St. Francis student Paige Coombs representing the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 15, Harbour Grace, placed third in the Intermediate category of the Colour Poster while Ascension student Maura Hayes, representing Branch 32 in Bay Roberts, earned second place in the Senior Black and White Poster category.
POSTER WINNER - Gerald Drover, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 39, presents Heather Hollett of Dildo with a certificate. Hollett, a Level 3 student at Crescent Collegiate in Blaketown, is one of the 2008 winners of the Royal Canadian Legion’s 2008 Remembrance Poem, Poster and Essay Literary contest. Her black and white poster, depicting a soldier standing behind a group of headstones, has earned her a trip to Beaumont Hamel.
POETRY WINNER - Acacia Puddester of Northern Bay earned first place in the Senior Poem category of the Royal Canadian Legion’s 2008 Remembrance Poem, Poster and Essay Literary contest. Her poem, summarizes the day-to-day happenings of a teenager as opposed to a soldier going to war.