History Dept. News

History Students Support Honour A Hero Program

For Remembrance Week 2013, Mr. Legace's and Mr. Turcotte's grade 10 history classes served as interpreters at the Walkerton Legion's "Honour A Hero" display. This display is put on by Clarence "Butch" Kieffer and the Walkerton Legion Branch 102 and is a wonderful selection of memorabilia and artifacts of local participation in global conflicts. For the past two years, history classes from SHHS and WDCS have added to this display by serving as interpreters at the display. Students research topics and local heroes ahead of time and present to local elementary students and the general public who tour the popular event.

Full details available at http://honourahero.ca
Honour a Hero  Honour a Hero 
 Honour a Hero  Honour a Hero
 Honour a Hero  Honour a Hero
 Honour a Hero  Honour a Hero
Remembrance Day 2013

Remembrance Production 2010
Image from 2010 Production

SHHS remembrance play to perform in Ottawa this year

November 2011


written by Robert Legace (Teacher, Sacred Heart High School)

Years ago when I first began my career in teaching, I was approached by a local Royal Canadian Legion to bring my class to a presentation. Little did I know then that this simple presentation would shape much of my career in the years to come.

 Having studied history in university I would have to admit that I have an affinity for the subject. This interest was cultivated within me by my parents who regularly took our family to historic sites and discussed Canada’s past accomplishments. This was the fertile ground in which a local veteran would plant a seed.

Herb Miller, a local businessman and veteran, greeted me at the door of the Durham Legion thirteen years ago.  He welcomed my class, a group of grade eight students from St. Peter and St. Paul’s School, to come in and be seated. What unfolded over the next two hours still amazes me to this day.  Herb Miller had organized a veteran’s talk with friends of his, Orville Lee- a tail gunner in the RCAF and Newman Pratt- a Sniper in the infantry. As the men talked I noticed the faces of the students come alive as they absorbed all that was said. Herb, who began the talk, moved about the room showing students artifacts and answering questions. At the end of the presentation he came over to me and explained that he wasn’t getting any younger and that he was unsure how much longer he could do these presentations. He looked at me intently and asked, “Could you help?” Three simple words. Little did I realize at the time that these words would propel me on a journey of discovery with my students over the next twelve years.

Thus, an idea within me was borne on a gloomy day in November to preserve the memories of Canada’s military past in the hope of promoting a more peaceful world. Initially, the goal was to stage a simple ‘Remembrance Day’ service and highlight local veterans’ stories. After an interview with Herb regarding his wartime experiences, the idea of a multimedia, theatrical presentation took hold. The first years involved me doing much of the research and assisting students in acting and set construction. Slowly, I began to realize the incredible appetite that was present within my students to become more involved. This led to students being engaged in every aspect of the production, from research to writing, from acting to publicizing. What became very apparent to me was that Herb’s goal that young people would seize the torch of Remembrance and hold it high for all to see was being realized.

Sadly, Herb passed away a couple of years after the initial shows. To honour his contribution, we named the group The Herb Miller Peace and Remembrance Project. It was Herb’s dream that, “young people fully realize that our quality of life, and that our freedom came with an awful price”. Herb’s story is like many men and women of his era; he served his country in a time of need. He was very different however, in one way because when Herb returned home, he spent countless hours sharing a message of peace and remembrance to young and old alike.

This year marks the twelfth year that the Herb Miller Peace and Remembrance Project has been staged. Now affiliated with Sacred Heart High School in Walkerton, Ontario, the project has entered a new realm of possibilities. Students began researching and storyboarding the show last February. Music was selected and practiced over the summer months. Since September, students have met weekly: rehearsing lines, organizing uniforms, collecting images and completing all of the hundreds of tasks required.

This year’s show will be featured at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa during the week of Remembrance on November 9 and 10th.   This opportunity is a chance for the students to articulate clearly that our country's past accomplishments, trials, and lessons learned, will not be forgotten. This opportunity is a chance for this group of students to answer Herb’s question, “Can you help?” with a steadfast response: we can help and we will remember.

September 13, 2011

by John McPhee, Walkerton Herald Times

A local school play, produced every year for Remembrance, will be very memorable this year when students perform it at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa during Remembrance week.

Sacred Heart High School teacher Robert Legace, who has been writing and producing ‘The Herb Miller Peace and Remembrance Project’ for 12 years, said he wrote to the War Museum last year, sending them a DVD of last year’s production.
“They called a week later and asked if we would be interested in performing during Remembrance Week.”

Legace called it “a real honour” to be asked to do the one-hour play during such an important time at the museum and was especially proud when officials asked if they could put on five shows over Nov. 9 and 10.

Legace’s involvement with the Herb Miller project began 13 years ago when Legace was a first-year teacher at St. Peter and St. Paul’s school in Durham. Miller, a World War II veteran, invited Legace and his Grade 8 class to see the display of war memorabilia at the Durham Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion. Miller asked Legace if he “could help” spread the importance of Remembrance Day for youth.

“We did a play the next year and we’ve been doing it ever since,” he said.
There were several veterans at that first production. When the lights came on at the end of the performance, all of them had misty eyes.

The first production was based heavily on Miller’s experiences. He passed away the following year, so Legace named the production in his honour. “Herb was instrumental in getting us things, that first year,” Legace recalled. “He was great.”

Legace brought the production to Walkerton when he joined Mother Teresa School and again when he moved over to S.H.H.S.

Each year tells a different story. This year’s production – ‘The Need for Remembrance’ – echoes the theme this year at the War Museum.

As with all productions, the script is a collaboration between Legace and his students.
There’s a section on the Royal Canadian Navy and a section on the Royal Air Force as well as profiling Frances Pegahmagabow, a First Nation’s sniper who became highly decorated for bravery during World War I. Other prominent soldiers are also featured in the production.

It was a lengthy process – beginning last February – to get the script approved by the War Museum. But Legace has already been busy with the cast of 14, comprised of students from Grades 10 to 12 already selected.

Jocelyn King, a Grade 12 student at S.H.H.S., is directing this year’s production.
“I’m very interested in history and I believe it’s important for students our age to get involved,” she said. King has been involved in earlier productions, including working the lights in last year’s show and said she’s “really looking forward” to the challenges of directing this year’s play.

Legace has a passion about the annual performances. “I think, if we truly want to appreciate the country we enjoy, and our quality of life, we need to look at the sacrifices made for our freedom.” He said it’s important today’s youth get to see when the world wasn’t such a nice place. “We need to know that to pass on a peaceful world. We can never forget what they did and never allow it to happen again.” Legace said he plans on taking the students to Remembrance Day services at the National War Memorial.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for them to see it in Ottawa,” Legace added.

The War Museum is paying for the troupe’s accommodations and food, but Legace said they must raise approximately $2,500 for production and transportation costs.
“We’ve approached local community groups, but if anyone wants to support this, it would be much appreciated,” he said.

There will be a local performance prior to the group leaving for Ottawa.


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