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KPS Students Aid in the Recovery of Fallen Soldiers’ Identities
KPS Students Aid in the Recovery of Fallen Soldiers’ Identities
Posted on 05/10/2023
KPS Grade 6A Class

May 10, 2023 (Kemptville, ON) – Kemptville Public School’s (KPS) Grade 6 classes are working together to build an online database that will aid in identifying the remains of approximately 120 fallen Canadian soldiers of the Battle of Hill 70 found in France in the spring of 2022.

This is part of a larger Real-World Learning project called The Hill 70 Project: Lost. Found. Always Remembered, in which 19 Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) classes are a part of. KPS is the only UCDSB elementary school that is currently participating.

About a month ago, KPS Grade 6 Teacher Robert Lachance began the endeavor with his two French Immersion classes. Students could choose to work as an individual or as a pair and focused on digitizing one lost soldier’s data into an online database. To keep them motivated, they alternated between entering data and working on their PowerPoint presentation of their soldier.

“Each student gets to personally know their soldier, but they might not know anything about the soldier their peer is working on across the room,” says Lachance. “That’s why I added in the presentation portion. Students get a snapshot of what life and society was like in 1917.”

KPS Hill 70The self-proclaimed ‘internet detectives’ work from photocopies of pen-to-paper forms filled out in the early 1900s. Each file includes important information like age, height, and medical history, which all play a factor in the process of identifying the soldier’s remains. Students are working hard to ensure the information they enter is as accurate and complete as possible, despite some difficult to interpret penmanship.

“I explain to my students that this project is like building a puzzle. We may not have all the pieces, but the more missing pieces we fill in, the closer we get to the finished product,” explains Lachance.

Grade 6 student Molly McCool is working on Private William Chase Bowser’s file, a 27-year-old from New Brunswick. “This project makes me sad because they died, but happy that we can remember them. In a way, that keeps them alive,” she says.

Classmate Cara Kean’s missing soldier is Private Albert Anton Cooke, a 23-year-old from Alberta. “The work we are doing is very important. We are telling the stories and bringing back memories of lost soldiers,” she says.

“It’s not easy to talk about death, but my students have handled it like pros. I enjoyed watching them get so invested in each of their soldier’s life story,” says Lachance.

Chris HadfieldThe group was thrilled to receive a personalized thank you card from Astronaut Chris Hadfield, who is invested in the project as his great-uncle is a Hill 70 soldier whose remains have not yet been discovered.

Lachance attributes the success of this project to the guidance and expertise of Smiths Falls District Collegiate Institute teachers Blake Seward and Mason Black and he is already thinking of how he can continue the project with his classes next school year. He plans to pick up where this year’s class left off and continue adding to the database.

“I am proud of the valuable work happening in Mr. Lachance’s classes,” says KPS Principal John Bourne. “It doesn’t get more real-world than dealing with real soldier data and we have the opportunity to teach Canadian History lessons and why remembrance is so important at the same time.”  


For media inquiries, please contact:

John Bourne
Kemptville Public School
[email protected]

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