TROOPS, nurses, land girls and suffragettes emerged from the morning mist, through a field of silhouetted soldiers, for a school day with a difference.
Dressed in a host of World War I costumes, also including, sailors, airmen, a war dog and even a carrier pigeon, pupils at Barnard Castle Prep School joined staff in a poignant day of Remembrance celebrating the service of past generations which secured their future freedom.
As excited children walked up the school driveway they paused to reflect on an art installation comprising 200 wooden Tommy soldiers, some decorated with thumb-print poppies others with moving extracts of war poetry, standing sentry in the grounds.
At the school entrance 4,000 poppies created by staff, parents and pupils, formed a weeping wall, a tribute to those who died in conflicts around the globe.
Pupils then spent the day off timetable involved in myriad activities in a memorable look at the wartime period.
While groups created trenches from ModRoc plaster of Paris, others fashioned periscopes from cardboard and mirrors. World War I period songs echoed from the school hall while in classrooms pupils created poppy-themed stained glass windows, studied wartime literature, wrote Remembrance poems, looked at cryptography, semaphore and ration books, hosted a celebratory tea party and dance and created Princess Mary Christmas tins.
The school fields became billeting for the troops at lunchtime as they dined heartily on chicken stew and apple crumble with custard from billycans provided by the Combined Cadet Force, all washed down with milky tea.
The look back in time was the pinnacle of three weeks’ study culminating in a whole school ceremony and the planting of poppy crosses outside the school chapel, itself a memorial to those who died in the service of the King.
For Year 6 pupil Emily England the centenary project had added meaning. “My dad is in the Army and this really makes me think about him and all the other servicemen who have fought to keep us safe,” she said. “The WWI day was such fun but we also had to remember that a lot of people have died for us.”
Barnard Castle Prep School Headmistress Laura Turner added: “Pupils and staff have worked so hard on this project and the results have been incredible. Even our very youngest children now understand the sacrifices previous generations have made to ensure they are blessed with such wonderful lives.
“While I’m sure our forefathers would not want us to be in a state of perpetual mourning and would love the fact that the children had such great fun, it is also only right and proper that we remember the fallen with the respect and dignity they so richly deserve.”