I have written extensively about the work of Tom Clark’s students at Lake Central High School and the Gold Star Memorial project. They were in the national spotlight with a segment on the CBS Evening News recently, and the feedback has been positive.
The future looks bright for students in classes like Clark's, because they are given an opportunity that expands far beyond anything a textbook could possible offer. Clark and teachers like him take their students off of the beaten path to study their subject matter thoroughly, to truly understand the stories that are behind the textbooks.
Rick VanderWoude at Highland Christian School is doing the same thing with his National History Day scholars. Time and again, he has mentioned to me that none of the great work that his students do would be possible without parent involvement.
As the parent of one of his students, I humbly agree. I understand that the work that they do is in them. They find a subject that they are totally into, grab the reigns and run with it.
Some students may need a bit of encouragement to get past hurdles that inevitably crop up, but that is the same with any project.
This school year, students were introduced to the National History Day theme, "Turning Points in History: People, Ideas, Events."
Students must get a handle on what people, ideas or events truly shaped history. I like to think of it as an exercise in finding the dividing line. What person, idea or event shaped the world in such a way that you could truly say that the world was very different before and after?
Walking around the campus of St. Mary’s College at Notre Dame last weekend, I would say that students from across Northwest Indiana really put their hearts into their work.
From VanderWoude’s class, eight students participated.
Caleb Last created an individual performance titled "Walt Disney and Disneyland, the Creation of the Theme Park," Jack Barth researched Robert Watson-Watt and "RADAR: a Turning Point for British Defense." Jashawn Rogers created "The Tuskegee Airmen: Helping Civil Rights Get off the Ground" website, while Cate Peerbolte created another website, "Title IX: 37 Words that Changed Women’s Future."
Ethan O’Riley made a documentary, "John Muir: Conservation’s Advocate," while Jeff Kroll produced the film "John Deere: Breaking the Plains One Plow at a Time." Matt Vargo wrote about "Thomas Edison: One Man’s Journey to Bring America and the World into the Light," and Noah Holderman created a website, "The Fourth Crusade: The Beginning of the End."
Also represented at the regional was Elijah Aurand, from Highland, who received support from his parents, Brian and Jodi Aurand to create his exhibit on "The Rise of the Nazi Party."
Gale Carter’s students from East Chicago Central High School were represented by an exhibit on the Mormon’s journey seeking religious freedom from Moenic Venson, while Diana Silva performed an historical fiction interviewing John Dillinger’s girlfriends.
This column will likely live on in scrapbooks as parents brag about what their kids accomplished, but some day these students will likely add a few more headlines. We are in good hands.