Remembrance was front and centre on a special night at the Haliburton Legion April 28.

The local branch welcomed around 50 people for its 2023 student awards celebration, commemorating the 68 youth who participated in this year’s Remembrance Day literary and poster contests.

The tradition has been running for more than 20 years, encouraging students from Stuart Baker and J.D. Hodgson elementary schools and Haliburton Highlands Secondary School (HHSS) to honour the sacrifices of Canadian veterans through personalized works.

Legion member Carolyn Millard organized this year’s event – the first the Legion has run since 2019.

“There’s so many ways that we can remember those who served our country… the students’ participation helps make sure we never forget the sacrifices that have been made to keep our Canada strong and free,” she told the crowd.

“Sometimes, it can be easy to think the war was long ago, but there’s always a way to link the present to the past,” she added.

Millard shared the story of her father, Jim, who served in the Navy during the Second World War. After enlisting in Hamilton, he completed basic training in ‘Hammertown’ and was assigned to be a submarine detector. He shipped out to Parry Sound and was eventually deployed to Europe.

Millard said her father spent years overseas and documented his service in a series of memoirs.

“My dad was a very humble man. He said he didn’t do too much in the war – I guess being a submarine detector was not as dangerous as some other roles. But it’s because of people like him that we have [the life we have] today. It’s stories like this that remind us why it’s so important for us to remember,” she said.

HHSS student Sophie Longo won first place in both the zone and district competitions for her entry in the poem contest. Millard noted Longo’s submission was now being judged at the provincial level. Results were unavailable as of press time.

Alivia Brown, a student at JDH, won first place in the local intermediate poetry category, for those in Grades 7 to 9, with classmates Azarra Steward and Brianna Vanderstarre finishing second and third. Brown also finished third in the zone competition.

JDH student Annika Gervais placed first locally and third at zone in the intermediate essay contest, with Macie Bielis finishing second and Alivia Brown third. Brooklyn Bielis won locally in the junior category, for Grades 4 to 6, while also placing first at zone and third at district.

Brown won first locally and at zone in the intermediate colour poster contest, with Gervais coming second and Dineke Verstegelsa third. Jordyn Braun placed first locally in the junior category, with Mia McCarty coming second. Stuart Baker student Luna Scuhr Marziali secured first in the primary category, for Grades 1 to 3, and second in the zone competition, with Campbell Adlam coming second locally and Mikayla Keller third.

HHSS student Isabel Hill placed first locally and at zone in the senior black and white poster contest, also finishing third at district. Brown won the intermediate category, with Mazey Robinson coming second and Connor Iles third. Claire Lynch won the junior category, with Anika Suke placing second and Claire Hamilton third. The primary category saw Melcolm Lynch finish first and Everly Cox second.