A student at Rossland Secondary came in second in a national poem writing contest.
Grade 6 student Sophie Derosa was runner up in the Remembrance day poem contest and was presented with a cheque for $125 from the Rossland Legion last week.
Sophie’s mother and RSS teacher Christine Derosa said that her daughter was influenced by her great-grandfather’s own experiences in the war as Sophie’s grandmother often recalls to her when they visit.
“She’s quite familiar with the tales of him being an ambulance driver, stationed over in Europe,” she said. “Next year she’ll write the essay.”
Derosa explained that her grandfather has an interesting story that she hopes Sophie will tell.
“My grandmother became pregnant with my mom just when he left for war, so she never met her dad until she was five, when he returned from the war. These are things we take for granted,” she said. “I said to Sophie, ‘could you imagine going all the way to kindergarten without knowing your dad other than a picture?’”
Derosa said that has helped to motivate Sophie in the past. Her grandmother still shares a lot about her father.
All the grade 6/7s entered the contest at RSS as part of their curriculum. Derosa said they value Remembrance Day and feel that it can be lost on the kids.
She’s been helping her students to do the contest for the past 15 years.
“The legion is very supportive,” she said. “They buy us resource material if we like and the prizes are cash prizes, which are another motivator for kids to learn. We try to get them to research family members or any connection to remembrance day or to the wars.”
In the past few years, the contest has grown and now includes current wars as well, like Afghanistan.
“It used to be just Vietnam, Korea, World War I and World War II,” she said. “So now that opened it up, because many of these kids have parents that are in the military.”
The classes start researching and writing the poems in October and enter them on Remembrance Day.
There is then local, regional, provincial and national judging.
They do brainstorming, personal research and watch short video clips.
The legion also comes to speak to the classes.
In Grade 7 they focus on children and war. “So they get to actually look at what it’s like to be a child living in a war-torn country today,” she said.
“That’s what we really push is your life is fantastic because of what these people fought for and these are children living in war-torn countries now and that could have been you.”
She said that very few kids are able to actually relate to a single person.
“There are a few essays dedicated to great-grandparents, but not that many, the rest of the kids just have to have general knowledge and understanding and gratefulness.”
Derosa said that in the past 15 years she’s been doing it they’ve had a lot of kids place at the provincial levels, but Sophie is likely the first RSS student to place at nationals.
Sophie is in Kim McKinnon’s class.
Here is her award winning poem:
A Day To Remember Our Soldiers
The soldiers gave their lives to defend
They say a prayer for war to end
Whether fighting in desert sand, rain or mud
Landscapes soaking up their blood
Another war, lives turned to dust
The only thing they had was trust
They lay in graves so far from home
Their families shattered, now all alone
All those courageous young men who took part
And bravely defended us with all their heart
Remember those who fought before
Remember those still at war
On November 11 and every day
Be thinking of the soldiers in every way
As our anthem plays, sing clear and loud
And on Remembrance Day, wear poppies proud
We thank all Veterans for their choice
And perhaps one day we will all rejoice.