Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/5/2012 (1859 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Winnipeg is crawling with Kelvin High School alumni this weekend but for some current students, the predecessors with whom they feel most deeply connected are lying in graves in France.
As the school celebrates its centennial, some history students unveiled presentations on Thursday on 13 Kelvin graduates who made the ultimate sacrifice in the Second World War.
Early in the school year, history teacher Chris Young ordered files from the national archives on the Kelvin soldiers and each student thoroughly researched their match and prepared a short speech in his honour.
The speeches weren't done in front of a class, however; they were delivered at the soldiers' graves in France, the culmination of a "battlefield trip."
"I thought this would be the perfect trip for Kelvin's 100th anniversary," he said.
Angela Yang, 16, was matched with Paul Lougheed, who graduated from Kelvin in 1930 and died in battle at age 32. She admitted standing in front of his white tombstone was "a little surreal."
"I was thinking, 'This man went to school in Winnipeg and he travelled all the way overseas to fight in the war and he didn't know what was going to happen. I recognized how much responsibility he had and how much he had to do for his country and his wife," she said.
In her research, she came across a government form that asked soldiers what they wanted to do when they returned from overseas.
"He wanted to work in the plastics industry. That's not a big dream but he had hopes to come back. He never knew that he would die in the war," she said.
The students discovered while the soldiers were off on the battlefield, the Kelvinites they left behind were contributing to the war effort, too. Girls were tasked with knitting socks and gloves for them while the boys took shops classes to learn how to make rifles. The school's slogan at the time was, "Carry on."
Walter Sahaluk, 21, was just five years older than Catherine Le is today when he fought at Normandy and died in 1944, just three years after receiving his Kelvin diploma.
She said putting forth the effort to learn about the soldiers made the trip a personal experience.
"It was more meaningful because you really wanted to honour these soldiers. We knew so much about them and we really did feel the connection. I think this trip is the closest we would ever be to even imagining these soldiers' experiences," she said.
Injeong Yang, 16, discovered John William Benham, a member of the 100th battalion of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, was 23 years old when he died, also in 1944, just five years after graduating from Kelvin.
"We found out what their battalions were doing the day they were killed. Some of us had poppies or flowers that we brought from Canada and we placed them with pictures on the tombstones," she said.
Several thousand Kelvin alumni have descended upon the city and will take part in a number of events both at the school and the Winnipeg Convention Centre, where a social will be held tonight and a gala dinner on Saturday night.
Penner came back
IF you happened to saunter by Kelvin High School Thursday morning and heard bleachers full of students belting out The Cat Came Back without a hint of embarrassment, you weren't hallucinating.
That's because all of them had grown up listening to legendary kids' entertainer Fred Penner and they had one important thing in common with the man at the microphone -- they're all Kelvinites.
Penner, a 1965 graduate, said even though you might think teenagers would be at a phase where they'd want to leave their childhood behind, they all want to go there.
"It's a critical part of our being. Those are the early years of life, that's when personalities are formed. If I'm connecting with them at this point, there's something more than nostalgia, there is something deeper and more profound," he said.
Penner put on a pair of short performances on Thursday and won't be far from his guitar for the rest of the weekend.
Dozens of Kelvin alumni were invited to the school Thursday to speak to current students about what Kelvin meant to them, some life lessons they had learned and what they did for a living. The group included Gail Asper from the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, City Coun. John Orlikow, journalists Andrew Coyne and Roger Currie as well as many former teachers.