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Black Country pupils welcome German students to Passchendaele anniversary commemoration - WATCH

By Luke Bartlett | Wolverhampton | News | Published:

German students have joined Black Country pupils to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele.

Around 20 students from the Academy of English in Oldenburg, Germany, and the High Arcal School, in Sedgley, attended a ceremony at Wolverhampton Cenotaph today.

Dozens of members of the public as to pay their tributes and hear the students read war poems and pay their respects with a two minute silence.

WATCH students gather for Passchendaele commemoration

Director of Studies at the Academy of English, Dr John Goodyear, said: "This all started in 2014 when citizen towns right up and down the country were remembering.

"I thought it would be a really good idea to try and bring together English students and German students as an act of remembrance on the one hand but also as a sign of reconciliation on the other.

"We've done this since 2014 and this is today our fourth service, we come back to Wolverhampton because we see the significance of the city with its support that its given to these events.

"We've had the mayor come out, the lord-lieutenant come out, and the most important thing about what we're doing is bringing together the students."

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The exchange between the two schools goes back to 2009 and has seen in total 17 exchanges - some seeing German students coming to Wolverhampton and Sedgley and some English students have being travelling to Oldenburg in Germany.

The ceremony, which saw seven reefs laid at the foot of the Wolverhampton Cenotaph, saw the support of the Wolverhampton Central Branch of the Royal British Legion and bring together young people from both countries to reflect.

The Royal British Legion carried the colours and oversaw the service of remembrance and reconciliation.

Delivering a speech of thanks, the Mayor of Wolverhampton, Councillor Elias Mattu, said: "I want to thank, pay a special tribute, to our young people who are setting a fine example for us.

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"We know that history is full of wars, but its not the war that we celebrate, we're celebrating the end of war.

"The young people, both from Germany and from Britain, are showing us the path.

"Pupils from German and English schools, the High Arcal School and the Academy of English, I would like to really thank you on behalf of the council and from the bottom of my heart for the work that you are doing for humanity."

Students from the Academy of English are on a 10-day trip to the UK and have already spent a week with their English counterparts.

Year eight student Greta Gesang, 13, who read at the ceremony, said: "We were going to school to High Arcal to see the students and to experience British culture.

"I think it went pretty well, I was pretty nervous."

Plans for the High Arcal School in Sedgley to visit the Academy of English are set to continue.

High Arcal School headteacher, Jo Bull, said: "I think it went absolutely fantastically, particularly when the world is full of lots of talk about European descent with the Brexit thing.

"I thought it was very moving and I was very proud of all the students both ours and all the visitors."

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