No Stone Left Alone sees students honour veterans at cemeteries

As part of a cross-country program called No Stone Left Alone, about 200 Grade 6, 7 and 8 students from Central Middle School, accompanied by pipers from the Canadian Scottish Regiment, will be at Ross Bay Cemetery on Friday to place poppies at the graves of about 150 veterans.

The same day, a similar number of Grade 6, 7 and 8 students from Rockheights Middle School will go to God’s Acre Veterans Cemetery, located within Gorge Vale Golf Course in Esquimalt, to place more than 2,500 poppies.

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The gatherings in advance of Remembrance Day have been designed to show middle-school students the importance of honouring war veterans.

Rockheights principal Maryanne Trofimuk said this will be the school’s third year as part of the program, which has generated plenty of enthusiasm among students. “The kids are completely involved in it.”

Trofimuk said the students will walk the short distance to the cemetery, accompanied by special guests.

“We parade our kids down, it’s quite formal,” she said. “We’ve got Canadian Forces members and some Victoria police in their dress uniforms.

“We’ll have two shined-up VicPD cars, one at the front and one at the back.”

The opportunity to visit the cemetery provides a valuable lesson for students, and it has replaced the usual Remembrance Day activities at the school, Trofimuk said.

“We’re right in the cemetery,” she said. “It’s experiential learning and we do our regular ceremony down there.”

Members of the Naden Band will play O Canada and God Save the Queen, she said.

No Stone Left Alone was started in Edmonton in 2011 through the efforts of Maureen Bianchini-Purvis, who had laid a poppy on the grave of her mother, a veteran, for years. The program is now in nine provinces, and this year will see about 6,800 students from 85 schools lay poppies for more than 44,500 veterans in more than 100 cemeteries.

The City of Victoria has also shown its support for Remembrance Day with the annual raising of the poppy flag at city hall.

“We raise it every year for obvious reasons, to honour all the people who have served so that we can live the lives we live today,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps.

Helps encouraged people at the flag-raising ceremony to wear a poppy and make a donation on behalf of the poppy campaign.

“The Legion funds really important services that people who’ve fought for us need,” she said. “We’re all in this together.”

jwbell@timescolonist.com

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