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Plaistow children turn clock back to 1914 for World War I day

Members of the Royal British Legion  take part in an assembly at New City Primary School to remember World War I Members of the Royal British Legion take part in an assembly at New City Primary School to remember World War I

Wednesday, July 9, 2014
6:29 PM

Children swapped desks for battlefield trenches and planted poppy seeds in an event that turned the clock back 100 years to the First World War.

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The giant poppy released tens of thousands of petals at the school to mark the outbreak of World War OneThe giant poppy released tens of thousands of petals at the school to mark the outbreak of World War One

The event coincided with the re-dedication of a memorial to staff and pupils who died at New City Primary school.

Staff at New City Primary in Plaistow decided to hold a World War 1 memorial day during the summer term as they will not be in school for the anniversary of the outbreak of the war in August.

In the run up to the day the children learnt about life during this time both at home and on the battlefield. They studied books and saw actual photographs of soldiers during that time. They also learnt the importance of remembrance and the significance of the poppy, planting seeds for the distinctive flower around the school grounds.

The day began with an assembly attended by Councillor Joy Laguda, parents and representatives from the Royal British Legion. Every child in the school made a poppy and this was placed onto a giant poppy hung from the top of the school. All the 50,000 tissue paper petals making up the flower were released to signify the lives lost.

Tayesha Rahman is pictured in a battlefield trenchTayesha Rahman is pictured in a battlefield trench

Children also took part in numerous activities throughout the day including 1914 dance lessons and a visit to a trench.

It culminated with the children congregating in the playground for a reflective silence, attended by flag bearers carrying the union flag and Royal British Legion Standards.

Helen Matthew, admin officer at the school, said: “We have a World War one memorial plaque at the school which has been here for 100 years. It details the names of staff and pupils who lost their lives during the First World War. We have recently relocated the memorial to a more prominent area and decided to get the Padre from East Ham Royal British Legion to come and rededicate it. Members of our school council laid a wreath underneath the plague during the ceremony.”

David Wareham, head teacher, said: “We felt that it was important for the children to learn about this time in History and the impact it had on our lives today. The children fully embraced the spirit of the day by dressing up and taking part in all of the workshops. It was a day we will all remember for a very long time.”

Doreen Golding, the pearly queen for the Old Kent Road who also took part in the day, said: “The whole day was truly amazing, the children were fantastic and the amount of effort put in by everyone was a credit to the school. The costumes were wonderful and the poppy drop was a sight I will never forget”

Pupil Chiara Cassell, aged 10, said: “World War 1 day was amazing. My favourite part was going into the trench and learning about what life would have been like in there.”

Bob Stokes, Poppy Appeal organiser from Royal British Legion East Ham, said: “It was a great day. The amount of organisation it must have taken to put on such a day is incredible. The children were a credit to the school and their families. I hope the things they learnt today stay with them always”

Neil Ansell, who has three children in school, said of the poppy drop: “It was magnificent, I’m not too proud to admit I had a tear in my eye watching it, well done to all concerned”

Ken Hill, secretary of the East Ham branch of the Royal British Legion, said: “This was a fantastic day and we were honoured to be involved, you could see how much the children were enjoying learning about the World War 1 and It’s a day I won’t forget.”

Jiya Jasmin Mehra, aged seven, said: “I really enjoyed the day, my favourite part was learning to dance the foxtrot which was a dance they did at that time. I think it would be sad to be in the trench.”

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