Nova Scotia

In Flanders Fields 100th anniversary marked by Halifax students

As people around the world get ready to honour one of the most well-known war poems, students in Halifax studied it in a unique way Thursday.

Canadian John McCrae wrote iconic poem on May 3, 1915

Two dozen students at Fairview Junior High shared stories of their studies of the war with a group of teens in Belgium on Thursday. (Carolyn Ray/CBC)

As people around the world get ready to honour one of the most well-known war poems, students in Halifax studied it in a unique way Thursday.

Two dozen teenagers at Fairview Junior High spent the morning chatting with students at Sint. Jans College of Poperinge, Belgium. Both classes are studying In Flanders Fields, and the students read the poem together over a Skype chat. 

The poem was written by John McCrae just 12 kilometres from the school in Belgium on May 3, 1915. 

In Halifax, Grade 8 student Devon Gallo had heard the poem many times before, but hadn't given the story behind it much thought until the students from Belgium explained that it was written after McCrae's friend died in battle.

"I didn't know John McCrae was a doctor," he said. "I found that interesting. And I didn't know why he wrote the poem."

The Halifax teens were also amazed to learn that the school in Poperinge was occupied during the war. Their teacher, Stephanie Comeau, said it was a great way to bring history to life.

"Just to make that personal connection — and there actually is this place, it does exist," she said. "People know about it. People live there, instead of it just being in a book."

Comeau hopes the exchange will give her students a new appreciation of the poem as it is celebrated on Sunday. 

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