ELMS 8th Graders Honor Veterans with Year-Long Exhibition

     Published on 6/22/16   Tagged under:    District News    Academics    Expeditionary Learning School   

ELMS 8th graders gained a unique perspective on conflict and a new respect for veterans, thanks to their yearlong exhibition “Through the Eyes of Our Veterans.”
Over the course of the year, students studied these guiding questions: What causes conflict? What are the consequences of conflict? How do we honor sacrifices? Why is it important to understand various perspectives?
As one component of their project, students broke into small groups to interview 19 veterans from World War II to the current day. Two of their sources were mothers who had lost sons in combat.
One group spoke with a World War II pilot, who told of his best friend’s kidnapping in combat, his own escape and how the experience haunts him.
“I was amazed at everything he went through,” Haley Files said. “It gave us another perspective and told us more of the story than what you read about in books. I’ll always remember this because I met the veteran—I knew him and I talked to him.”
“Our presentation was a way for us to say thank you and show respect for people like him who did so much for America,” groupmate Jovelis Ramos said. “He was so cool!”
Jazmine Rowell’s group interviewed a Vietnam War rifleman. “He gave us his hats, jackets, books… he told us how he was disrespected after the war, which I thought was really powerful,” she said. “He gave a human feel to the stories we hear about war.”
After interviewing a veteran and conducting research, students wrote their own narrative, incorporating the veteran’s stories. Acting and dressing as the veteran, the students presented their work at the Onondaga County War Memorial, in the presence of the veterans and their families.
In addition to the exhibition, students also took the time to write letters to an Honor Flight and to the 65th Infantry Regiment, a Puerto Rican regiment of the U.S. Army, to say thank you and to show appreciation.
Through that process, the students incorporated their Spanish skills as they wrote letters in Spanish for the 65th Infantry soldiers. In their exhibition presentations, they included math by researching how many people were in the war they studied, what the war cost, how many lives were lost and more; science was even relevant, as students described the climate and environment that the veterans experienced.
ELA teacher Elizabeth Neeves said this cross-curricular project is a great way for students to make gains—not just academic, but personal as well.
“This project is important because it helps students gain an authentic audience for their writing, and gain perspective on the importance of learning history,” teacher Elizabeth Neeves said. “It also helped them feel like there was a real purpose for their learning.”
Great work by these students in honoring our nation’s veterans and their sacrifice!