By Ray Spiteri, Niagara Falls Review
Friday, September 28, 2012
Gavin Watt of the Fort George National Historic Site attended the Marriott Gateway hotel in full War of 1812 gear as educators launched a new bicentennial elementary education program Thursday. (RAY SPITERI/Niagara Falls Review)
Around 30,000 children are about to get quite the history lesson.
Every student in grades 3-8 across the region will receive a Passport Niagara: A Journey Through the War of 1812 package including a bicentennial map, passport and pencil in a commemorative backpack.
Students will be encouraged to visit the historical sites on the map with their families, where they will receive a stamp following their visit.
The initiative will “bring 1812 to life for all our students,” said John Crocco, director of education for the Niagara Catholic District School Board.
“We are all students of history,” he said, describing the program as a “very thorough and thoughtful examination of the events which helped shape our nation.”
The initiative, launched during a press conference at the Marriott Gateway hotel in Niagara Falls Thursday, is a partnership between Niagara’s four publicly-funded boards of education, the Niagara 1812 Legacy Council, local museums and historic sites.
It was made possible by $90,000 from the federal government’s 1812 Commemoration Fund and $52,000 from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
Legacy Council chief executive officer Brian Merrett said it’s nice to see the school boards work together to make the initiative come to fruition.
“With the bicentennial in full swing now in Niagara, it makes sense to provide current resources to our region’s teachers so students can learn about the war that unfolded in their own backyards,” he said.
Organizers said the goal of the program is to link classroom, home, school and community.
In addition to students getting a package, every elementary school will receive a teacher’s resource kit with an educational program custom-designed for each school board. There will also be books offering native and black perspectives, and posters depicting various aspects of the war.
District School Board of Niagara director of education Warren Hoshizaki said a recent poll of Canadians deemed the War of 1812 as “the second most important event in history,” second to only the creation of the country’s publicly-funded health-care system.
“By studying the War of 1812, students gain valuable insight into Canadian history and the development of our national identity,” he said. “Passport Niagara is a valuable resource that will support authentic learning experiences for our students.”