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Follow PECI students as they travel to Vimy Ridge

PECI’s Penny the Panther (aka Flat Penny) gets settled into her hotel room in Prague.

In commemoration of the 95th anniversary of the Canadian victory at Vimy Ridge (April 9-12, 1917), countylive.ca is following a group of 23 Prince Edward Collegiate Institute students and staff as they travel through Europe.

Canadian troops were ordered to seize Vimy Ridge in April 1917, but it was victory at a terrible cost with more than 10,000 killed and wounded. For the first time, all four Canadian divisions attacked together and men from all regions of Canada were at battle.

In 1922 the French government ceded to Canada in perpetuity Vimy Ridge, and the land surrounding it. The gleaming white marble and haunting sculptures of the Vimy Memorial, unveiled in 1936, are the poignant reminder of the more than 60,000 Canadians who died serving their country during the First World War.

With thanks to PECI teacher Rob Garden, you can follow Penny the PECI Panther (Flat Penny is the PECI Panther sticker) and her group as they travel through Europe and represent Canada and Prince Edward County at the 95th anniversary of Vimy Ridge.

Photographs will be posted as wi-fi connections allow. View them here, and click on the link for more photos and updates. (You do not have to have a Twitter account to view) https://twitter.com/#!/PECIVimy2012

The first stop on theVimy Commemoration Tour was Prague, the former capital of the Holy Roman Empire. Dubbed the City of One Hundred Spires, Prague boasts an enchanting mix of diverse architecture, Bohemian culture and storied history. Despite many recent changes, the undeniable charm of centuries past permeates from the cobblestone streets.

* TWITTER UPDATES:

* Flat Penny gets settled into her hotel room in Prague – what a view!  http://pic.twitter.com/ODEdVYgp

* Just returned from a night time walking tour of Prague’s city centre. Up early tomorrow to visit the castle!

Jamming outside Prague castle

Sightseeing began at Prague Castle. In the courtyard students visited the St. Vitus Cathedral which took more than 600 years to complete. On nearby Golden Lane, royal alchemists once laboured unsuccessfully to turn lead into gold.

Flat Penny and students meet the Czech guards at the castle

* Flat Penny enjoys her first Czech breakfast – castle visit and a river boat tour today

* Visited a Nazi concentration camp today at Theresienstadt. Very emotional day, but full of life changing experiences

Students visited the fortress town of Terezin. During the Second World War, the entire population was evacuated and the quaint medieval town was used as a concentration camp for some 140,000 Jewish detainees. They visited the Ghetto museum, which displays artifacts and artwork by the Theresienstadt’s prisoners, and documentary films depicting this dark chapter in the town’s history.

* Exploring Dresden tomorrow morning, and then off to Weimer for a German cultural experience.

Heading for the bus in Dresden

Flat Penny enjoying a street performer in Dresden outside “Old National Gallery”

Dresden was once considered by many to be the most beautiful city in the world. They toured by the Semper Opera House, Zwinger Palace and saw a statue of martin Luther. They also visited the Grunes Gewolbe (Green Vault) where the Saxon crown jewels and priceless coins are kept.

Heading into Amsterdam this morning for a guided tour of the city. The tulips are just starting to bloom!

Students spending time at the Dutch Resistance museum in Amsterdam

PECI’s students made their way to Amsterdam, capital of the Netherlands.  They passed the Westerkerk West Church where the reamins of Rembrandt and his son are buried. The church was also the site of the wedding of Queen Beatrix in 1966. They continued to Dam Square, a dam around the Amstel River created in the 13th century to prevent the Zuiderzee Sea from flooding the city.
They saw Anne Frank House, where the young girl hid with her family from 1942-1944 and where she penned the poignant diary that has been translated into dozens of languages worldwide. They also visited the Duth Resistance Museum which chronicles the period of Nazi occupation in Holland.

Flat Penny enjoying an Asian style dinner in Amsterdam

Last morning in Amsterdam waiting to enter the Anne Frank House

* Heading to Ypres today for ceremonies at Essex Farm and the Menin Gate – once in a lifetime opportunities!

Students continued to Arras, centre of much of the fighting in the First World War. When the town’s civilian population was evacuated, the soldiers took refuge in a system of tunnels under the main square. Though the town was in ruins after the bombardment, most of it has been painstakingly rebuilt in the old style.

Incredible day in Belgium. Powerful ceremony at The Menin Gate.

Wesley Stakes finds the grave of his great grandfather Ronald Stakes who was a British tail gunner.

PECI students pose with Canada’s Governor General following The Menin Gate ceremony

PECI students got to meet Canada’s Governor General following The Menin Gate ceremony

The trip’s highlight was the commemoration ceremony of the Vimy Ridge 95th anniversary. PECI students joined thousands of other students, veterans and Canadian government representatives at Vimy Ridge to honour the great sacrifice made by Canada’s soldiers.

They saw the trenches where brave soldiers waited for weeks to ‘go over the top’ and attack Germany’s seemingly impregnable fortified emplacements. They saw the landscape, still marked from  t he masses of artillery shells, and where Canadians from coast to coast came together to fight, die and ultimately triumph over a foe that had defeated all others to that point.

Students prepare for a silent three km march to Vimy Monument with 4000 other Canadian students

What an incredible day at the 95th Anniversary of Vimy Ridge. So very proud of our students!

PECI students at Vimy Ridge

Spirit of the West put on a great show last night – off to Paris today!

Students spent the finals days of their trip in Paris. They took a walking tour which included the chic Opera district and strolled through Place de la Concorde, the city’s largest public square, built to honour Louis XV. The next Louis was not so lucky, he was beheaded there during the Revolution, along with Marie Antoinette. They also passed The Ritz Hotel, a favourite haunt of writer Ernest Hemingway. They visited the Notre Dame Cathedral, once described by Victor Hugo as “a vast symphony in stone.”

Students also enjoyed a guided tour including the Arc de Triomphe, the elegant Champs Elysees to the Place de la Concorde, Sorbonne University and the Louvre. The Palais du Louvre, built to defend the city in the 13th century, now safeguards one of the world’s greatest art collections. Students saw some of the world’s most famous paintings by Renaissance and European masters including Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of the mysterious Mona Lisa.

Flat Penny starts her Paris adventure at Notre Dame

Flat Penny at the Eiffel Tower

Last day in Europe! Students are looking forward to Le Louvre, Montmartre, evening boat tour and shopping!

Flat Penny at Le Louvre!

What a great trip! These students were amazing ambassadors for Canada and PEC! Thank you for your support!

Filed Under: Featured ArticlesHastings & Prince Edward District School BoardPECI - It's a Panther Thing

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  1. m says:

    It’s great to see PECI students and there teachers representing the county at Vimy Ridge. I’m sure they will have alot to talk about when they get back on what they seen and experienced and I looking to read more about. Enjoy every minute.

  2. Paul Cole says:

    Its inspiring to see these PECI Students carrying on the Tradtion of Remeberance and will no doubt pass along their experiences to their Children in time..Lest We Forget.

  3. Joanne Kaplan says:

    Rob G
    just some info:
    My grandfather Walter Proctor fought at Vimy Ridge along with his brother and father.
    He was the only one that came home.
    He lost both the same day each by his side.
    Thank you for making me think of “Grampa” – it has been
    awhile.
    Enjoy the rest of your travels..

  4. Laurie G says:

    Great to see that PECI Penny is having a fabulous time! Looking forward to traveling along with you and experiencing Vimy Ridge through Penny’s eyes!

    Safe Journey
    Travel Safely

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