Remembrance Day Commemoration at Lansdowne

Dear Mr. Powell,

I first visited Lansdowne School almost forty years ago, in my capacity of Associate Superintendent of Schools, and it immediately became special to me since it was the very first school in District #61 in which I set foot. From that day I have had a very special place in my heart for the school, so I was particularly delighted when my granddaughter was accepted there two years ago. Since then, when I have been in the country, I don’t think I have missed a concert or production at Lansdowne which brings me to the reason for writing to you because, just over a week ago I attended the school’s Remembrance Day Commemoration.  As a further introduction I should tell you that I have visited well over 100 schools in several countries, and have attended probably over 200 school concerts; also at one stage in my career I was intensively involved in choral and symphony work and consequently have developed a special appreciation for music, one which gives me an additional impetus to send you my personal impressions of last week’s Commemoration.

First of all I was astonished at the behavior of your students both in coming into the gym and upon leaving it. Not only did they enter with barely a whisper but their demeanour and respect throughout the morning was outstanding and, to me, so impressive that I am certain that in my extensive experience I have never seen better, anywhere. Besides the way the students entered and exited the gym I noticed that they held attention throughout the morning, respectfully attending to everything that was happening. Such behaviour touched me greatly and left me wonderfully impressed, so please, if you have the chance, do let the students and of course the teachers, who no doubt helped in impressing upon the students the solemnity of the occasion, know that that such exemplary conduct by your students was noticed and, as far as I am concerned, deserves an A+ Grade! It was truly wonderful.

The commemoration itself was commendable and well choreographed with much of the work responsibly handled by the participating students and was essentially flawless, again impressing me with how much respect and maturity your children had for what they were doing, or for what they were taking part in, especially as it essentially concerned events and even concepts which, to virtually all of them, are far removed from anything they have experienced. It also showed just how much work your staff and students had put into planning for that morning.

Then there was the Lansdowne choir and band from whom I have come to expect a high caliber of performance, and I was not disappointed. The choir, as usual, even though there must have been at least one hundred voices, had impeccable diction and clarity and they seemed very much in touch with the most fitting words they were singing whilst the quality of orchestra continued to impress: over the last two years I have found it incredible that so many of the students have only been playing their instruments a short time, and that they are so competent at such a young age.

At any concert, especially at a school, the behavior of performers when they are NOT playing or singing is just as noticeable to the audience as when they are “on stage.” From my perspective the Lansdowne choir and orchestra last week evinced behavior which was every bit as attentive and respectful as the students behind us on the bleachers: again very impressive and mature.

I grew up during the war and knew what it was like to be bombed, to be hungry, to be fearful, and to be sorrowful and shocked as the fathers of playmates died, and to be grateful. In later years I also visited Normandy, Dieppe, The Somme and Juno Beach, so Mr. Powell, to me, not only did the Remembrance Day morning at Lansdowne touch me, it reflected wonderfully on you, your students, your teachers, and of course upon the parents and the Lansdowne community, and ultimately upon Canada; it was a pleasure to have been there.

We as parents, grandparents and friends of your students often leave the school after a production or concert feeling that we have witnessed something heartening and even extraordinary but most of the time we are remiss in sending our congratulations and appreciation to the school and to those concerned, so on my own behalf and on behalf of dozens of others who have left whispering their praises of the students to each other, but not to the school – “Thank you” to you, the staff and your students for the planning, the rehearsals and all of the work put into making last week’s commemoration so special, and so meaningful.