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Grade 6 students in Almonte, Ont. campaign to have local veteran's name added to cenotaph

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A 100-year-old mistake in the town of Almonte, Ont. will soon be corrected, thanks to a group of Grade 6 students.

The students in Jean Grant-Kearney's class have spent much of the year researching Private George Monterville, an Almonte native and First World War veteran.

Monterville signed up to serve at the age of 34, and returned to Almonte after the war. He died on home soil from injuries suffered in battle at the age of 39.

Just a couple years later, the Almonte Cenotaph was constructed with the names of local veterans engraved upon it, but Monterville was left off.

"We found out that his name was not on the Almonte cenotaph," said 12-year-old Olivia Giardini. "So we decided to make a real life learning project, and we wanted to get his name on the cenotaph."

Jean Grant-Kearney's Grade 6 class at R. Tait McKenzie Public School in Almonte, Ont. MWO Michael Wiggins (left) is featured alongside the class. April 11, 2024. (Dylan Dyson/CTV News Ottawa)

Since November, the class has been campaigning to add Monterville's name to the cenotaph by contacting the mayor and making presentations to the legion.

"For the students, it's important for them to make connections to their town. It's important for us to also remember our veterans, not just leading up to Remembrance Day, but always," said Grant-Kearney.

"I think it was kind of unfair because he was not on the cenotaph with all of his comrades and all of his friends, even though he was one of the first to sign up," said 11-year-old Owen Anderson.

Almonte Legion Parade Marshall and Master Warrant Officer Michael Wiggins aided the students in their campaign. He says Monterville was one of the founding members of the Almonte Legion.

"George's funeral, when he did die, was very important for this town. The town shut down and people lined the streets for his funeral parade," he says.

"So I think at the time, just over a hundred years ago, George was fresh in their minds, and he was remembered. And I think in their minds, they wanted to put the names of the folks that weren't here."

The efforts of the students have paid off, and they have learned that they will be part of the re-dedication ceremony in June when Monterville's name is added to the cenotaph.

"This gentleman was part of their community. He worked here, he played local hockey here, he ref'd hockey here," said Grant-Kearney.

"For the students he's one of their own. He is one of their townspeople."

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