Remembrance Day is a Time for Honouring and Understanding

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On Wednesday, our Junior School hosted its annual Remembrance Day service, featuring beautiful songs, evocative poetry and rich storytelling. Every year, our Head of School, Bob Snowden, reads the Roll of Honour, a tragically long list of names of boys or young men from St. Michael’s School and University School who lost their lives during the wars.

It’s become a tradition at our Junior School to recount the story of one of those young men: Michael Symons. He was a former student who became a pilot during the war. This is his story:

Michael Symons attended St Christopher’s School from Kindergarten to Grade 2, and then St Michael’s School from Grades 3 to 8 because they were the grades that existed in our school at the time. Michael enjoyed school, playing with his friends much as we do and loved sports. He was athletic and participated enthusiastically in his favourite sports: rugby, rowing and basketball. He moved on to Brentwood College for grades 9 to 12, where he became head boy. After graduation he went on to Victoria College.

However, he didn’t attend college for very long. There was the possibility of war in Europe, and he wanted to help keep Europe free, so he decided to go to England to join the Royal Air Force. There was no guarantee that he would be accepted into the air force, but Michael was determined.

His family had a small going away party for him and his dad gave him a little stuffed bear for good luck.

After a long trip by ship across the Atlantic to England, Michael was proud to be accepted into training for the Royal Air Force because he wanted to be a pilot. He became a pilot and flew many dangerous missions in the war. And he took his trusty good luck bear with him on all of his missions.

He was a good pilot, so he was promoted and asked to test fly a new two-seater fighter bomber called the Mosquito Two. He flew it one evening and wrote that it was the nicest plane that he had ever flown. The next morning he was to test fly it again, this time with his co-pilot, in order to make sure that all was right with the aircraft. When Michael took off in the Mosquito, he called the tower to say that there was something very wrong. Moments later the entire tail end of the plane fell off and Michael and his co-pilot were killed in the resulting crash. The investigation following the crash revealed that in the dark of night, enemy agents had managed to cut the spruce struts on the Mosquito.

It is interesting to note that on that day, Michael forgot his good luck teddy bear.

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by Tessa Lloyd

With Remembrance Day near, our Grade 4 students made time to contemplate the virtue of understanding.

What would the world be like if we were all able to understand each other? A better place, of course.

Understanding begins at home. It’s a beautiful virtue to cultivate. It aligns our thinking and our feeling. It unites our hearts and minds. Understanding is not something we wish for, but something we practice actively, with purpose and intention.

The more we try to understand the more open we are to possibility. We don’t jump to conclusions. Our observations are more astute, as we are more likely to see the whole picture. As a result, we have greater insights and wonderful ideas. People around us feel noticed and heard.

Understanding requires work. It’s not quick and easy. It often involves the pursuit of conflicting perspectives. It requires us to look for missing pieces and to challenge ourselves.

When differences and conflict arise, understanding helps us show compassion. We are more able to forgive the mistakes of others and those we make ourselves. It means that we can use empathy and put ourselves in the shoes of the other person. We understand them and we are also more understanding of ourselves.

Let’s help our children engage their reflective minds and use their compassionate hearts. Let’s help them to look, listen, think… and elevate their minds to a place where understanding is possible.

Grade 4 Reflections

“If there was more understanding in the world… there would be more peace and no wars because the people of their country would understand that their country shouldn’t be more powerful than it is now.” – by Alexandra

“More understanding would mean less war because people would not get into fights and get mad at each other and understand each other better.” – by Ian

“If there were more understanding I think there would be less arguments because people would understand what the other person is thinking. If one person is completely wrong then they would understand how they are wrong. If one person was not being serious then they could understand some people would not like people not being serious. I think the environment would be more protected because everyone would understand that the environment plays a part in their survival.” – by Ryan

“More understanding would help the world because there would be better communication. There would be less slavery and more people would understand that human rights are important. Everyone would understand that everyone should have a decent life. More people would be healthy because doctors would be working together, everyone would be happy and the world would be a better place.” – by Eva

“More understanding in the world would cause less wars in the world because if they understand each other and they shared the land they would not get into as many fights. If they didn’t get into fights there would be much, much more free countries in the world. If there were more free countries in the world then the world would be a more freer place and the world would be much more peaceful.” – by Bhavi

You can browse and download photos of the Junior School Remembrance Day service at the SMUS Photo Gallery.

(photos by Kyle Slavin and Gordon Chan)

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Kyle Slavin
Kyle Slavin is the school's storyteller. Through words and photos, he shares with the community all the amazing things that happen on campus.

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