Hero photograph
Photo by SBC

9S & 9T English

Emma-Louise Cooper —

For the second half of the term, the Year 9 Heroes and Villains course focused on war heroes.

As part of their studies, students have explored WW1 propaganda songs, as well learning about the experiences of Aotearoa’s own war heroes. To inspire some creative writing, students were given an opportunity to learn more about life in the trenches in a way that appealed to their senses.

To the best of our artistic capabilities, and with a number of helping hands, Mrs Jacqueline MacKean and I set up a room that contained a mockup trench, WW1 war memorabilia, images from the trenches and no-man’s land, as well as some of the sounds and smells associated with it. Needless to say, students were not a fan of the smell of the trenches, particularly the vomit!

Part of the day also included digging trenches and being spoken to by two boarding masters about their experience in the army today. Whilst at our makeshift trench and crater area, students were served a lunch of stew, spam, and hard biscuits to provide a tasting experience. Surprisingly, they were some requests for seconds.

The day was rounded off by the sharing of notes made during each ‘station’ and looking at how language techniques could be made from these notes to allow students to create a sense of being there in their writing.

Already we have noticed that providing this experience has given our classes more to write about and we have been impressed by some of the language techniques used to bring the experiences they are sharing to life. We hope they enjoyed the day, and feel it helped inspire them too.

A huge thank-you to all the amazing staff who contributed their time and resources to make the day as successful and as realistic as possible. We would also like to extend a special thanks to Tim at Etc. Collectables on Edgeware Road for kindly allowing us to borrow a number of items from his WW1 collection.