Groh for Gord

Tiana and Sarah with Voyageur In some ways, Friday morning's visit to Groh Public School was a long time coming. After all, I'd met teacher Kim Gill back in 2012 at the UnPlugd teachers retreat in Algonquin Park. But, looked at another way, this presentation - as well as an afternoon visit to Kim's former school, Ryerson P.S. - came together quite quickly after some material from Gord Downie's Man Machine Poem tour wardrobe that Kim had donated to the project became part of Voyageur's guitar strap several weeks ago.

Typically, the presentation I do for schools is aimed at students from about grade 5 up through high school - partly because it's a long presentation and I don't have to change my normal way of speaking within that age range and partly because right near the top of the presentation I mention the impact that knowledge of the residential school system and its terrible legacy had on the formation of the project and it used to be that grade 5 was about the age kids started to learn about that. I'm pleased to say that the issue of residential schools is now being taught earlier and earlier across the country. At Groh, they were starting in grade two and there were kids from that age group in attendance. At the end of the presentation I also went and did a little show and tell with the kindergarten kids so it was pretty much full-school coverage!

The "performance pocket" was handled adeptly by student Tiana Gooray (pictured, left) but Kim and music teacher Sarah McLeod (pictured, right) wanted to do something extra special for this day in keeping both with the Gord Downie connection through Kim and the focus on indigenous issues. So, I prepared two special visual sequences: the first to accompany Kim's class singing Downie's "The Stranger" from Secret Path with Sarah on Voyageur; the second to accompany the Groh school choir - again with Sarah on guitar - singing the Hip's "Ahead By a Century". You can link to the audio below but I'm warning you right now that it's an emotional experience. I know that from both the rehearsal and the performance where they had me in tears!

Thanks to all the staff and students at Groh P.S. for a terrific morning and a great musical experience. GrohPS "Ahead by a Century"

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