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AFK Blog
Nov 09
Ceramic poppy project impactful in many ways

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By Paul Best, Teacher, Lynnmour Elementary School

I was influenced by the Tower of London Poppy installation of 2014, where ceramic artist Paul Cummins, who suffers from dyslexia, and set designer Tom Piper placed 888,246 poppies in the moat. Each poppy representing an individual solider from the United Kingdom and British Commonwealth who died during World War 1. After the installation was dismantled, each poppy, complete with a certificate commemorating one of the fallen, was sold to the general public raising over $17 million dollars for war veteran's charities. 

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I wanted to create a similar experience for Lynnmour Elementary School students, not only making the ceramic poppies but also directly tying it to an individual soldier, from one of the 17 British Columbian battalions, who died during the Great War.

To make it even more meaningful, I chose one of the most famous Canadian actions - the Battle of Vimy Ridge during the second week of April 1917. Sadly, 3,598 Canadian soldiers died and a further 7,004 were wounded that week. The first day of the battle, April 9, 2017, had the most casualties.

I researched the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) online and found more than a hundred individuals who died while fighting with one of the British Columbian battalions on April 9, 2017. Each student received a printout of the CWGC certificate with the rank, name, service number, battalion designation, and sometimes the age and next of kin of that particular soldier who they commemorated. As the students were creating their poppies, they had their printouts in front of them. I know that it resonated with them. 


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