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Highland Gathering - Lawrencetown school taps into Scottish history in Gaelic Studies get-together

Lawrencetown Education Centre principal Jamie Peppard is in the middle of planning the school’s 2019 Highland Gathering for Sept. 21, a full day of all things Scottish at the school. Learning to write in Gaelic is one of the many workshops.
Lawrencetown Education Centre principal Jamie Peppard is in the middle of planning the school’s 2019 Highland Gathering for Sept. 21, a full day of all things Scottish at the school. Learning to write in Gaelic is one of the many workshops. - Lawrence Powell
LAWRENCETOWN, N.S. —

Students throw things at Jamie Peppard’s school. But it’s all part of the hands-on experiential learning fun at Lawrencetown Education Centre.

From hammers to cabers, students have let fly, and the 2019 Highland Gathering will be no exception as teachers and students prepare for the Sept. 21 event that principal Peppard wants the whole community to attend.

“We’re pretty excited about this year’s highland gathering,” he said. “The Gaelic Studies 11 class did an excellent job last year in offering a number of workshops within the gathering. They had language, kilt tying, Gaelic writing, and we also participated in a tug-o-war that was hosted by 4-H. And then we had traditional Scottish heavy events. So it was a pretty well-rounded affair.”

He said this year they’re hoping it will be even better with music and dance involved.

“So we’re going to have a number of different things – more on the arts side,” he said. “Because Danny’s (Frame) here and I’m here we have a lot on the heavy events side, and the students embrace that, but this year I think we’re going to see a bigger gathering and it’s going to have even more opportunities to experience Scottish culture, which is pretty exciting.”

Lawrencetown Education Centre attracts students from across the Annapolis Valley and is an alternative setting for students who don’t quite fit the tradition learning environment. The Highland Gathering fits in with the way they teach and engages students.

“Any time you can take a student-driven event like this and mesh it with community interest, there’s no chance you’re going to lose because the kids are motivated to do a good job with all curriculum-related material, and more importantly they’re getting good feedback from the community about the good work they’re doing,” Peppard said. “With the students that I have, positive feedback goes a long way.”

And Peppard hopes members of the community come out and see what it’s all about.

“Last year we had a number of people from the community and they were very vocal out there,” he said. “This year we’re going to put a little more information out there, and I think we’ll have a bigger response Sept. 21. And when we look on the calendar it’s a free weekend and as you know some of our best weather is in September in the Annapolis Valley. I’m hoping that we’ll see a big turnout.”

Peppard said LEC tries to embrace courses that have a real hands-on component and Gaelic Studies works that way.

“It’s just easy to deliver in experiential learning module format,” he said. “So for us, when we look at this course it’s dear to our hearts, not only because we have staff that have strong ties to Scottish culture but it’s the basis of our province really. Culturally we’ve got such a strong background that when we give these kids this information and they do the work through the course, they sort of reconnect. They reconnect with the history of the province. They can see all the value in wearing kilts, they can see all the value in the types of activities we do here. Scottish culture is very hearty, and I think as you know, we like to try to breed a hearty student here.”

Helping out with a clinic the night before will be three of Canada’s top female throwers including Adena Robinson, Perth-Andover, Liz MacDonald, Halifax, and Susie Lajoie, Middleton.

The student-facilitated workshops in Gaelic language, writing, and mountain kilts fitting (the original way clans wore kilts) will take place in the LEC Gymnasium and they’ll be spread out through the day on Saturday between dancing, bagpipes, the tug-o-war, and armwrestling. And of course the heavy events highland games. But if that’s not enough, there will be oatmeal brown bread and highland beef on the barbcue

He said there will be a limited-seating athlete dinner at Beavercreek Winery with traditional toasts to the 'Lassies, Lads, Haggis, and Caber.'

Peppard said the schedule should be set by Sept. 11.

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