The story of 158 flags

Grade 6 student Abram Rempel, left, Lt. Col. Lyle Johnson, Grade 5 students Max Simmons and Hunter Nichols, planted 158 flags around the school to honour those who died in Afghanistan as part of Sunningdale Elementary School’s Remembrance Day ceremonies Friday. Joshua Santos/Times-Herald

Students at Sunningdale honour veterans

Sunningdale Elementary School added an extra component to their Remembrance Day ceremony Friday.

“We had a former student whose parent unfortunately passed in Afghanistan. There are 158 flags and those are representing each soldier that Canadians lost in Afghanistan,” said Jennifer Prokopetz, vice-principal of Sunningdale Elementary School. “It’s really important that we have exactly the right number.”

A group of students, including Hunter Nichols and Abram Rempel braced the cold to plant the flags outside the building with retired Peacock Collegiate drama teacher and Lt. Col. Lyle Johnson of the Cadet Instructor Cadre (CIC).

“Today, me and Abran were outside with one of the older grown-ups pounding in these little stakes into the ground,” said Hunter Nichols, Grade 5 student at Sunningdale. “We’re putting the Canadian flags, 158 flags, into the ground to remember all the people that died in Afghanistan.”

Sunningdale has been planting flags outside for three years.

The children were surprised to hear about the student losing his father.

“Losing your great, great grandpa it wouldn’t be as hard, but your dad…” said Hunter.

“I didn’t know that and I felt bad,” Rempel echoed.

Prokopetz said it’s important for the students to learn about the history of the military veterans who fought for the country.

“We talk a lot about the things we’re grateful for and the freedoms we have. We want our students to be able to recognize the importance of that and realize how great their lives are because of the sacrifices that people have made for us,” said Prokopetz.

The boys clearly do not take living in the country for granted.

“It just a safe place. Just take for example what happened in Vegas. It’s a safer place (here),” said Nichols.

The ceremonies were held in the school gymnasium. It featured a wreath-laying, performing band, singers and guest speakers.

“We read some stories and we have a lot of special guests that came and joined us today. “(They include) people from our community, family members of our students that participated and support us with this as well,” said Prokopetz.

A Wall of Honour post was also displayed on the school’s library door with photos and biographies of veterans.

Each veteran was in some way related to a student at the school.