Driving Question

“Why is it so important to preserve the Juno Beach Centre?”

What is “historical significance?” 

Well, Wikipedia says it’s a “historiographical key concept that explores and seeks to explain the selection of particular social and cultural past events for remembrance by human societies.

So rather, the question should be; what makes historical significance? 

What better way to learn historical significance, than through discovering the history of Juno Beach and writing a multi-paragraph persuasive composition defending it from development?What is Juno Beach?”, you may ask? Well, when I started this project, I had no idea either. Apparently, the battle that occurred on that beach was an important contribution made by Canada during the Second World War. 

-And we all know how much I enjoy learning about war… maybe that’s a weird thing to say. Genuinely, looking back on war is interesting, but it’s not really fun to be in. It’s terrible. Absolutely devastating. Quoted by literally every historian ever. 

Anyways, since we completed our WWI project, I had a feeling WWII was next. Maybe I can see the future… Let’s get started! 

We kicked this project off by watching the first 30 minutes of “Saving Private Ryan” and what a way to start. The scene was heartbreaking. The cinematography was revolutionary and it felt like we were there with the soldiers (I would expect nothing less from Spielberg.) And, yet…


So I sadly can’t dedicate 3 hours to writing a detailed movie review, when I haven’t even finished it (yet, growth mindset.) So, I’ll just say that the first 30 minutes are incredible, and that it’s probably a must watch. 

However, most of all, this movie clip introduced us to the horrors of D-Day… the day Canadian soldiers fought on Juno Beach. (It all connects… THE CIRCLE OF LIFEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.) 

We started where all history projects start… r e s e a r c h. Yes, that makes sense.

As a class, we covered a rough overview of the entirety of the war (including the interwar years). I really liked learning about this topic linearly as a timeline, because it made everything CLICK. Sure, I knew the Battle of the Atlantic or how blitzkrieg worked, but finally understanding how these events connect was mind blowing. Even connecting it to the aftermath of WWI and the Great Depression heightened my understanding. It was a eureka moment.   

This was when we were introduced to the PEE formula (it’s not what it sounds like.) It actually stands for “Point, Evidence, Explanation.” This was a writing strategy we used to explain our understanding of the specific WWII topics. Though I like to stick to my “hamburger paragraph” formula, which has lived in my brain since elementary school, the PEE formula works too. 

We used this formula to summarize our understanding of the importance of the Battle of the Atlantic (lots of “of the” in that sentence.) I was watching a different war movie (because WE DID NOT SOMEHOW HAVE “SAVING PRIVATE RYAN” ON ANY OF OUR 4+ STREAMING SERVICES???) while writing this summarization, which is not relevant to anything. I simply just wanted to exclaim how SAVING PRIVATE RYAN IS ONLY ON LIKE PARAMOUNT+, WHICH IS NOT SOMETHING I NEED TO ADD TO MY COLLECTION OF STREAMING SERVICES, THANK YOU VERY MUCH. I MISS THE DAYS WHEN NETFLIX WAS THE DOMINANT STREAMING PLATFORM. 

(Click to read my summary)

Then, with the learning we gained, we moved on to the first keystone about historical significance. We answered the question: “Why was WWII significant for Canada?” …Because, when we researched the Second World War… WE ALSO LEARNED ABOUT ITS IMPORTANCE FOR OUR COUNTRY (wow, plot twist of the century.) 

At first, I faced some challenging writer’s block, which just so happened to start the moment we began a project all about writing. Very convenient. However, after having some historical debates with my dad (who’d only watch fighter plane documentaries when I was like 5), I was inspired to connect these events with the present. Though I think I could’ve explained these connections better (…particularly the one about Canadian independence and leaving the Crown), I’m very happy with my keystone. 

(Click to read)

Then, we took an English class pivot (dun, dun, DUN) and learned about “rhetorical techniques.” Basically, they came from old Greek philosophers who debated a lot of things and needed to persuade people to their side. Surprising (plot twist ahead), we discovered that we used these techniques a lot before even recognizing it. Remember, my old pals; ethos, pathos, and logos? Yeah, they’re making a comeback. 

Anyways, we then had to apply these skills to actual articles. First, we read “It’s Not Just the Weather that’s Cooler in Canada” by Greg Beach. After individually analyzing it for rhetoric techniques, we then had to discuss it as a group. If you knew me, then you’d know how much I fear speaking in *shivers* group discussions. But I put that fear aside, and actually talked quite a bit. Whether or not I knew what I was rambling on about, it was an interesting experience. 

Overall, the article was well written, but fairly outdated (who would’ve guessed, it was from 2004!) However, I enjoyed over analyzing it for its very persuasive techniques. 

(Click to read)

After, we moved on from the group discussions and completed a rhetorical analysis individually. We analyzed an article called, “thanks for not killing my son”, which is exactly and exactly not what it sounds like. 

If you want to know more about it, read my rhetorical analysis on it…

(Click to read)

We also did a quite rhetorical brainstorm about Juno Beach. It was very helpful in outlining what I wanted to include in the final writing, and any ideas I had about the topic. 

Now, onto the final product. First off, I actually needed to know about the Juno Beach situation. Though we briefly covered it at the beginning of this project and during the research phase, I needed to know more in order to persuasively defend it. I developed a research page filled with sources and quotes, which would become very useful in the writing phase. 

(Click to read)

This project emphasized the “power of revision”… which I would learn… comically painfully. Oh boy, did I learn about my good friend… revision. 

Ok, backstory time. As a writer, I have the tendency to… edit as I go along, which I admit is painfully slow, BUT I MUST FIX THOSE MISTAKES OR ELSE. In the end, my “first draft” isn’t really my first draft, and it’s actually legible. 

Since we were showing the steps of our revision, I decided to leave the issues alone for once. Though I had to face the terribleness of my first draft and my identity as a writer descended further into the darkness of that sweet oblivion, I actually found the revision process really helpful.


Through the feedback I received from my peers, I actually came up with new ideas and techniques that I wouldn’t have come up with without such a process. Also, when I finished my final copy, I felt proud of how much it improved! I used to be afraid of critique… NOW CRITIQUE BETTER BE AFRAID OF ME >:) 

After the revision process, I was finally able to complete my multi-paragraph persuasive composition (or rather, just a persuasive essay). Though it took time, a lot of rewriting, and facing my fear of critique, I’m very proud of this final essay (even though grammarly doesn’t particularly agree with me…)

(Click to read)

I also wrote a short blurb for our class website (a collection of all our essays)… 

“A proposed condominium development on the site of Juno Beach, France was cancelled after years of public outcry. But, why? What was so important about this piece of land?

This is a collection of writings from a class of Canadian high school students to protest the development as part of a class project. While learning about World War II, these students have discovered the Canadian significance of this site and the importance of its preservation. In arguing the value of the country’s contribution to the war, they have learned to use persuasive writing techniques to convey an important understanding of their history.

Through their research, the students discovered that the battle of Juno Beach on D-Day was one of the most significant battles fought by Canadian soldiers during the Second World War. The Juno Beach Centre is a memorial that preserves the legacy of Canadian service during the war. However, the development of seaside condos on this historic site threatened the sanctity of the site and its centre.

As a class, it is our hope that Juno Beach will remain a place of historical significance for generations to come.”

Why is it so important to preserve the Juno Beach Centre? Well, citing my essay, “the preservation of Juno Beach is crucial due to its historical value, the sanctity of the site, and its representation of Canada’s global contribution.” Preserving Juno Beach means the legacy of its history lives on. The efforts of the soldiers, who sacrificed so much on those shores, lives on. As long as WWII stays relevant, the Juno Beach centre will need to live on to educate and inform. 

That’s the end of this blog post! Stay tuned for more high school adventures. Currently, in our Maker class, we’re cooking up something spicy: our very own podcast!