Every November 11 for the past 15 years, students from Saint Anthony’s Catholic School have gathered at Old City Hall to honour fallen soldiers.
Almost two hours before the Remembrance Day Ceremony began on Monday, students had gathered in the biting, drizzling rain – and guarding their front-row vantage point from the thousands of onlookers.
“These students have been here since 9 am. You’ll have to find somewhere else to stand,” said a woman in the crowd, defending the students spots from a video-journalist trying to pass through. The ceremony, attended by Mayor Rob Ford, who addressed the crowd, drew in thousands of people.
The tradition of attending the ceremony was started by one of the elder teachers more than 15 years ago. Maiolo continued it when she transferred to the school.
Although seventh-grade-student Kevin Cefar says attending the ceremony is just a part of the curriculum, Catherine Maiolo, a teacher at St. Anthony’s School, says she makes her students attend the ceremony “to keep the idea of remembrance in their hearts.”
The school celebrates a different virtue every month and this month it is peace. The school’s November newsletter quotes Pope John Paul II. “Peace is not just the absence of war. It involves mutual respect and confidence between peoples and nations.”
Maiolo says peace is also connected with anti-bullying in the school, “all the way into what bullying can lead to if we don’t stop and remember how to be peaceful people.” Maiolo tries to instill this virtue in her students as well as a practical idea of what war-time life was like .
Last year, Maiolo’s class made a war-time cake which was made only of ingredients that could be sent overseas. The cake had to be made without milk or eggs, which didn’t yield the best results.
“The cake was as good as it could be,” she says, with a laugh.