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HMS Students Honor Veterans by Preserving and Sharing Their Stories »
This Veteran’s Day, seventh and eighth-grade students at HMS Richards Elementary took the lead in honoring our nation’s veterans. As part of a class project, the students spent weeks interviewing veterans and creating photo storybooks to highlight and remember their service.
During Campion’s church service on November 11, students shared a few details of their stories and invited church members to stay for a reception to show appreciation to veterans. In the reception, students sat side-by-side with military veterans of several eras, and used their books to help facilitate conversations with the church members about the veterans’ lives of service.
Many students wrote about their own family members who served and found the process to be meaningful to themselves as a way to learn more about their relatives and preserve their family history. Eighth grader Christine Eagan-Foster wrote the story of her great-grandfather who was a World War II veteran and has since passed away. “The project was exciting for me because I got to learn more about my family and history. Since I never met my great-grandpa, it was interesting to learn about him and write down his story. My whole family is happy to have the book to remember him by,” she said.
For many of the veterans, the photo storybooks were a special surprise and they were delighted to have their stories written down in a way that they could share with family members. Herb Nelson, a Vietnam veteran, enjoyed being a part of the project. “It brought the kids and us veterans face-to-face. The kids got to ask questions and it was a lot of fun to share with them. The book was fantastic; everyone that came for Thanksgiving dinner really enjoyed looking at it,” Nelson commented.
While an 800-1000-word paper typically sounds daunting to junior high students, this project helped give them purpose for their writing. Most of the students were so engaged in the topic that creating a 20-page photo-story book seemed like more fun than work compared to typical language arts assignments. The students found it meaningful and formed positive relationships with the veterans, who in turn appreciated the students’ interest in hearing their stories. Eagan-Foster reflected, “When I started the project, I didn’t really know how it was going to go, but at the end, I couldn’t believe I actually made the book and that it was good! I feel proud to have made something meaningful to my family.”