Bangor Grammar joined 600 students from across the UK, Ireland and France to commemorate the Battle of the Somme today.
The Year 10 pupils gathered in Thiepval as part of a wide programme of events taking place across the UK and France.
As living memory of what was one of the deadliest battles of the First World War fades, the programme – designed by the British Council - aims to raise awareness of the significance of World War One and the importance of UK-France relations in continuing peace and stability in Europe today.
Twenty four French, British and Irish institutions, 600 students and nearly 100 teachers have worked for over six months on the theme of the Battle of the Somme through educational projects and joint artistic productions.
For the North Down School, the visit is particularly poignant, with 37 ex-pupils having fallen in World One, five of them remembered on the Thiepval Monument and another buried at the Mill Road cemetery nearby.
The 600 students, aged nine to 15 years-old, met earlier this week for a series of interactive workshops and visits to historical sites. It will be the chance to create even stronger ties and commemorate together the centenary of the battle that marked our collective history and during which nearly a million soldiers of both nations lost their lives.
As part of the project, Bangor Grammar forged a partnership with a school from Amiens in France — Lycée Thuillier — to allow pupils from both countries to discuss their shared history, build friendships and to commemorate those who lost their lives in the Battle of the Somme, 100 years on.
Gary Greer, Vice Principal, has been busy tweeting about their experience.
He is delighted to be involved with the project, and said: "Remembering the fallen old boys of our School is very important to us. Our act of Remembrance is one of the biggest occasions of the year. To be given this opportunity by the British Council is amazing.
“The boys have been working on artwork in distant collaboration with Lycée Thuillier in Amiens, and for the last few days have stayed in their school, sharing in workshops and visiting Serre cemetery with them. I don't think that the enormity of the sacrifice sunk in until they were actually there. They are immensely proud to be representing their school and the province tomorrow."
The school hopes that the connection will lead to regular exchanges between the two schools to study both language and our shared history.
The British Council has also created a special education pack for schools to commemorate the Battle of the Somme. The pack contains resources to help students develop a deeper knowledge and understanding of the conflict. It covers topics including experiences of the Somme from around the Commonwealth, Pals Battalions, conscription, recruitment and remembrance today.
The programme is financed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the French Mission for the Centenary of the First World War, and delivered in partnership with the French Académie of Amiens.
This programme is just one of a number of educational programmes available through British Council Northern Ireland. For more information visit nireland.britishcouncil.org, follow on twitter: BCouncil_NI or on Facebook – www.facebook.com/britishcoucnilnorthernireland.