A group of high school students in Kemptville, Ont., have been getting their hands dirty in a unique way to mark Remembrance Day.

Sixty Grade 10 students at St. Michael Catholic High School have spent the last five weeks recreating the kind of field trenches Canadian soldiers would have lived, fought and died in during the First World War.

Teacher Fred Bortolussi says the project struck a nerve with many of the students, especially after some spent a night in the trenches.

“They know that this is more than a Grade 10 history project… it’s a memorial to the soldiers that passed in our great wars,” he said.

“They had a real good feel for what our guys went through.”

Teacher, students want trench to stay

It took two hours of digging a day over those five weeks and 1,500 sandbags to build a full-sized trench on campus that stretches 200 metres.

Students said their efforts were worth it.

“You get a bigger picture when you do this, and it really shows more,” said student Hallie Coleman.

Kemptville High School WWI trench

St. Michael Catholic High School student Ryan Schofield said it's a rare opportunity to build and walk through a trench. (CBC)

“It would have been really scary for them to not know when they're coming home, and (have) people shooting at them.”

”It helps us remember our veterans,” said student Ryan Schofield. “It helps us understand what they went through.”

The trenches became part of St Michael’s Remembrance Day ceremony when students walked through them in single file.

Bortolussi said he hopes to keep them in place so other schools can have a look, along with serving as a lasting memorial to Canada’s fallen soldiers.