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Weeklong Halifax Explosion experience ends with wrap-up assembly

Ava Schurman, left, Hailey Birch and Kayden Desroche look for their identities on the list of survivors and deceased from the Halifax Explosion. The trio along with other SIS students and staff were given identities of real people who lived in Halifax at the time of the explosion 100 years ago.
Ava Schurman, left, Hailey Birch and Kayden Desroche look for their identities on the list of survivors and deceased from the Halifax Explosion. The trio along with other SIS students and staff were given identities of real people who lived in Halifax at the time of the explosion 100 years ago. - Millicent McKay

Summerside Intermediate School transformed into 1917 Halifax for the experience-based learning activity

SUMMERSIDE – After a week with the identities Minnie Grace and Florence Ruscoe, Ava Schurman and Hailey Birch finally learned if the kids they were portraying lived or died.

Grace and Ruscoe were two young girls living in Halifax at the time of the Halifax Explosion.

Only one of them lived.

“Florence, the girl I was given, died in the explosion,” said Birch.

Birch and Schurman agreed the experience-based learning experience worked in teaching them about the Halifax Explosion.

“How the teachers presented the week, by putting us in a mindset that we were in Halifax days before and after the explosion, allowed us to think about what it might have been like,” said Birch.

Schurman added, “It’s amazing to think this happened 100 years ago. And it wasn’t that far away. Halifax isn’t that far away.

It’s something that deserves to be more than remembered, said Birch.

“It’s something we should care about. It really shaped the lives of so many.”

Schurman interjected, “It affected so many people. Most were left with nothing. The city was destroyed and so many people had to mourn their loved ones.

“During this week, knowing what the people would have gone through, I tried to think about how Minnie would have felt. What went through her mind when she heard the explosion, if she was told her family had died or how they survived and had to continue with their lives in the wake of this horrific event.”

Birch added, “When you think of it, no one would have had time to say goodbye to the people they loved. I hope people remember how many people were affected and that we should be grateful for what we have every day.”

Jenna Harvey, a teacher at SIS, embodied Vince Coleman’s wife, Frances.

“Frances and her four children survived. But her husband, Vince, who was a hero by warning a train about the explosion seconds before it happened, did not. “

Harvey said fitting material about the Halifax Explosion into the set curriculum outcomes wasn’t difficult and was a great opportunity for the students.

“We worked on mapping in social studies, reading comprehension in language arts as well as the impact on the media and how to check sources by researching the explosion.

“But as a homeroom teacher, giving the students their identification card was pretty cool. It was really great to see how involved students got. They really jumped into the project.”

Harvey said the project showed the kids how interconnected the world was.

“It showed the kids how important it is to help others, locally and even around the world. When you think about the people across Canada and the people of Boston who helped, it’s a real lesson.

“They saw the importance of human life and how even a single action can make a difference.”

Kelly Boyd, one of the organizers of the weeklong Halifax Explosion project, said it was a powerful learning experience.

“History is important to remember. And bringing it to life really made it resonate even more.”

millicent.mckay@journalpioneer.com

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