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Photos: Graduating students in Port Moody give love to War of 1812 women

Grade 12 students Amy Ritchie and Kyan Ho didn't like what they read in their Social Studies 9 textbook, so they wrote a musical to counter the lack of information about heroines in the War of 1812.

Amy Ritchie noticed a lot of gender bias while studying her Social Studies textbook in Grade 9.

An international baccalaureate student at Port Moody Secondary, Ritchie pointed out the imbalance to her classmate Kyan Ho, who was also dumbfounded with the lack of praise to heroines in the War of 1812.

Men, they read, got chapters of details about their battlefields campaigns while only a couple of women got passing mentions about their efforts.

In the school library and with their online research, the pair discovered many women had played important roles during that war: While many tended to soldiers’ wounds, others defended properties against looters, served as fort cooks and cleaners, carried messages across enemy lines and even suited up to fight on the front lines in Canada and the United States.

“There were so many women in the war who were courageous and who still continue to fly under the radar,” Ritchie said. “It’s pretty sad.”

To counter the lack of information in their textbooks, Ritchie and Ho embarked on a three-year journey to spread the word about war women like Laura Secord and Elizabeth Coles Stewart.

On Wednesday, April 10, the two students will premiere their musical called A Story Tell at the school with about 20 other student actors; the show also runs April 11 and 12. Tickets are now on sale.

Ho, a Royal Conservatory of Music piano student who portrays Anna (a character based on Stewart), was inspired by the Broadway orchestration of Les Misérables for the music while Ritchie, who plays Laura (a character based on Secord) brought her writing and acting chops to the historical non-fiction script.

During a rehearsal in the school drama room last Friday, April 5, the teens told the Tri-City News that they’re excited to see their passion project mounted and performed before a paying audience.

“It’s incredible that people are actually going to see this,” an excited Ritchie said.

“We did a lot of work in Grade 9 and now we’re finally here … No matter how it goes, we wrote a musical that we’re both very proud of. It’s something awesome before we graduate.”

A Story to Tell runs about two hours and is suitable for older viewers due to mature content. For tickets, you can visit the school website.