Saturday, 18 April 2015

When school feels like family

I absolutely love my job and I think the world of my school. I am so fortunate to work with an incredible group of colleagues and they feel almost like family.

Last week was an emotional week as April 14th marked the 50th anniversary of Constable Neil Bruce's death. Our school, Constable Neil Bruce Middle, was named after the fallen Constable and is the only school in Canada to be named after a RCMP officer. In early February we began planning for the event with a group of teachers designing a series of lessons to teach the history about the event and give students insight into what kind of man Constable Bruce was.

Before school on Tuesday, April 14th I drove out to the site where Constable Bruce was fatally wounded to lay flowers at the cairn. District personnel and RCMP officers were already on site at Powers Creek, setting up for the morning ceremony. Our school's Outdoor Education class was going to be part of the morning ceremony, first hiking down to the creek to the actual site were Constable Neil Bruce was shot and then each student would place a carnation at the memorial.

At school, we spent an anxious morning waiting. Around 12:30 our guests began to arrive and packed the library to mingle. I can honestly say that I have never seen so many RCMP officers in their red serge in one place before. At 1:05 we began our assembly. As a teacher, I was apprehensive about our students and how they would behave during a sombre assembly that would involve a lot of speeches. To say I was astounded by the respectful behaviour of the students during such a long and emotional assembly would be an understatement. The students were amazing. The highlight of the afternoon had to be when our grade 9 slam poet got up and delivered an emotional piece about Constable Neil Bruce. After he finished, the retired officers stood up and started a standing ovation. To see that sea of red uniforms stand as one for an ovation was incredibly emotional.

At the end of the school day, I left the building so very proud of our students. I believe our guests (current and retired RCMP officers, along with Constable Neil Bruce's family) left the assembly knowing that we as a school didn't just go through the motions of commemorating a 50th anniversary; we were genuine in recognizing and remembering Neil.

I, like so many of my colleagues, felt tears well up last Tuesday. But what got to me most was that my heart felt full and I simply didn't want to leave the building that day.  I guess that's what it feels like when school is like family.

To read about Constable Neil Bruce, click here

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