Exploring our History

Exploring our History

Putting their research skills to the test, the IB MYP Drama 10 created an insightful and inspiring piece for the GNS Remembrance Day assembly on Friday.

Students spent the past month conducting their own research using the school archives. With the help of Mr. Brambley and outside sources, they created a theatre piece that showcases what it was like to be at Glenlyon School and Norfolk House during the Second World War.

"It connects us to the history of our school--we can all take pride in how our school contributed to the war effort," said Ms. Adrienne Smook, Senior School Drama Teacher.


The piece is part of a Verbatim Theatre unit. In Verbatim Theatre, performers use text and interviews from outside sources to create an original piece.


The Drama 10 students looked closely at themes, characters and how to tell a story through their research. The students focused on the Second World War because there were many archival documents from the time period.

"They are just learning what life was like back then, laughing at some of the jokes that were in the yearbooks and some of the photos," said Ms. Smook "Just putting ourselves in what it was like back, and what the two schools were like back then."

Smook says they looked at the similarities and the differences at both schools while investigating how students and teachers were impacted by the war.

"The Drama 10 class created a narrative about what went on from 1939-1945. The key markers that take us through are speeches from the then Headmaster (Major James Ian Simpson) and Head Mistress (Miss Dora Atkins). Their key speeches take us through the early years of what it was like when war was declared and Canada's involvement started, to what it was like in the middle of it and then reflecting on the end," explained Smook. They also included a speech that reflects on one student's feelings towards the war.


Around 99 percent of the words spoken during the performance are from speeches and letters made during wartimes. The piece also features photos, radio announcements and other props.

During their research, the Grade 10 students had the help of Mr. Hamish Simpson to talk about his experiences through the wartime.

"I thought that it was really interesting," said Grace Serfas 22'. "We learned the things that weren't reflected by the yearbooks and we learned how imminent they thought the threat was. They did think Victoria would get invaded, and we did not see that from the yearbooks and all of the stuff we had because they were trying to be so positive about it. It was really interesting to see how someone experienced it versus the yearbooks."

Mr. Simpson watched the rehearsal and even provided feedback to the students. Ms. Smook says it was a good opportunity for the Grade 10 class to learn what it was like and to talk about the challenges people faced at that time.

"We don't know what it's like to have that presence of World War on our doorstep or feel like it is near to us. Both Mr. Simpson and Mr. Brambley helped us get a sense of what that was like," she said.

The piece is an important performance, and Brayden Young 22' says the audience will really get a sense of how Glenlyon and Norfolk House School was part of the war efforts.

"It's important because we are showing the school community the effect the war had on GNS, and how GNS responded to threats from Nazi Germany and these terrible dictators across the world ... and how we aided in the war effort from home." He said.


Both Young and Serfas say they want the audience to feel connected to the past as they learn about GNS's history.

"I hope they get the chance to learn something more about our school and a bit more about our history. For example ... the main character in the war scenes was derived from a GNS student who went to fight in Europe and died," said Young.

Serfas added, "I hope they get a deeper sense of pride for the school and a deeper understanding of what GNS is founded on."

Watch a recording of the performance below:


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