Paths for Peace continues with U.S. visit

 

By Joel Charron

Last October, Canadian students travelled to Put-in-Bay, Ohio as part of the “Paths to Peace” project.

On Thursday, the US students returned the favor and paid a visit to Amherstburg.

Approximately 300 students in total came to Amherstburg last Thursday as part of the War of 1812 legacy project. Students came to town from Bellevue Middle School in Bellevue, Ohio with Windsor schools Dr. David Suzuki Public School and General Brock Public School jointing them. Local schools Amherstburg Public School and Stella Maris Catholic School also took part in the “Paths for Peace” festivities.

Bianca Alvarez Stransky, superintendent with the National Parks Service (NPS) based at Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial in Put-in-Bay, Ohio, said the Paths to Peace legacy project is to show the history of the three countries involved with the War of 1812 – Canada, the United States and Great Britain – and to celebrate the lasting peace between Canada and the U.S.

“Our hope is that we help inspire the students to care about history and to protect historic sites on both sides of the border,” said Stransky.

The visiting students, teachers and parents had an opportunity to tour Amherstburg before converging onto Fort Malden National Historic Site.

“This is an amazing day for us,” said Stransky.

Stransky added that their hope is to take the Paths for Peace project to other War of 1812 sites, including those in Southwestern Ontario.

 

Stella Maris students perform an interpretive dance for the visiting U.S students, Thursday afternoon at the Fort Malden National Historic Site.

Stella Maris principal Bridget Russo pointed out that preparation for the American’s visit had been underway for some time now.

“It’s been an amazing experience,” said Russo. “We started planning this a year ago.”

Each school performed for their visitors during the all-day event, with all performance having an 1812 theme.

“The performances are great. We couldn’t be more proud of the students,” said Russo. “I’m just very, very proud of them.

Stella Maris student, Carly Popel called the Path for Peace project “an amazing experience.”

“We worked really hard and it’s been really exciting counting down the days until we got to perform for the Ohio students,” she said.

Popel added she is learning more about history through projects like this, rather than soaking all the information through a textbook.

“It’s very visual for us,” Popel explained. “It’s a fun, different way of learning.”

Popel also mentioned that she and many of her classmates have formed relationships with the U.S. students.

“We still talk over Facebook and stuff. We have made new friends,” she said.

Scott Scantlebury, public relations officer with the Greater Essex County District School Board, said the roughly 90 public school students involved put in a lot of time and effort with their teachers into the Paths to Peace legacy project. He believes the students likely learn more this way than through traditional textbook learning and will also retain more of the information.

Scantlebury said the Bellevue, Ohio school is in a very football-crazed area and said seeing them perform during a historical event “was very refreshing.”

Scantlebury added that the American students presentation were more history based while Canadian students were more of interpretive pieces of the era.

“I think the students have been very enthusiastic about it,” said Scantlebury.

Anne Rota, manager of tourism and culture for the town said the Paths for Peace project continues to strengthen the relationship between the students from both countries.

“These kids will be friends for life and remember the War of 1812 as well,” Rota stated.

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