P.E.I. students recreate Halifax in 1917 for explosion's 100th anniversary

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P.E.I. students recreate Halifax in 1917 for explosion's 100th anniversary

P.E.I. students recreate Halifax in 1917 for explosion's 100th anniversary

Students and teachers at a school in Summerside, P.E.I., went back in time this week to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion.

Summerside Intermediate was transformed into Halifax in 1917, when two square kilometres of the city were levelled by an explosion in the harbour.

Kelly Boyd, teacher-librarian at Summerside Intermediate, said students created a market store, models and maps of the waterfront displays for around the school and were dressing in period clothing for the week. Newspapers and street signs from the era also line the hallways.

Boyd said teachers were incorporating the event into their lesson plans, with a math class learning what a square kilometre was, mapping it onto Summerside and figuring out what the damage might be from a similar explosion.

On Monday morning, every student and teacher was given an identification card of someone from the time who may have been impacted by the explosion. 

"By transforming the school, giving them identities of people who lived 100 years ago, it helps create a more authentic learning experience for our students," Boyd said.

Lauren Johnston, a Grade 7 student, was given the identity of a 15-year-old survivor of the explosion. She said it was "really cool" to be able to embody someone for the week.

"I'm playing a survivor, but everyone else, we don't know if they lived or died. So even though you have no idea who this person is and you're not connected to them in any way, you're kind of becoming them for the week and you get immersed into the way their world would have been in 1917 before the explosion happened."

Teachers said students were excited to be able to play a different person for the week and were very involved with the activities and events to commemorate the 100th anniversary.

Johnston said learning about how people lived at the time and learning about what they went through was eye-opening. 

"I feel terrible to know that literally in seconds it was just changed, their whole worlds," Johnston said. "And these kids who lost their family members, their brothers and sisters, there weren't counsellors or psychologists to help them out, they just had to move on and live with it whether they were orphans or had to go live with someone else or only have one parent or were blind, they just had to keep on going.

"I just can't imagine something like that happening, it would be devastating."

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