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Best of the Week 2018-2019: Teaching to the Future


Jacob Gibson '20 and Mr. Frank O'Grady '74 have been selected as one of twelve student-mentor teams to participate in Sacrifice for Freedom: World War II in the Pacific Student & Teacher Institute, a student-teacher cooperative learning program held this July in Oahu, Hawaii. The program, coordinated through National History Day, will bring six teams across Hawaii and six teams from the United States to Oahu to study World War II in the Pacific. Mr. O'Grady, former President of St. Ed's Alumni Association and recipient of the Bronze Eagle Distinguished St. Edward Alumnus Award, once served as Jacob's advisor for the National History Day program at Rocky River Middle School. "Mr. O'Grady and I really got to know each other during my eighth grade year when I placed first in the district with my exhibit and went on to the state championship," says Jacob. "I have always been a big history buff and I've found WWII history incredibly interesting. When Mr. O'Grady applied for this opportunity, he asked me if I would like to be part of this amazing experience. This opportunity seemed like a perfect way to pay tribute to WWII veterans who lost their lives in the Pacific and to study more about WWII."

This spring, prior to visiting Hawaii this summer, each team will engage in readings, participate in online discussions and conduct research on a "Silent Hero," someone who never returned home and is buried or memorialized at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii. In July, all teams will meet in Oahu and engage in on-site learning across the island and at the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites while continuing to develop a Silent Hero profile that will be published online during the 2019-2020 academic year. Jacob and Mr. O'Grady have chosen to feature Rear Admiral Isaac Kidd from Cleveland, Ohio, who was the highest-ranking soldier to die at Pearl Harbor, as their Silent Hero. "The thing I am most looking forward to is hearing about everyone's Silent Hero and to gain a better understanding of what really happened that day at Pearl Harbor," says Jacob. "Up until the ninth grade, I had always had this one-sided view of the war, but when I took Mr. Jim Wallenhorst's history class my freshman year, he opened up my eyes to all the minute details that made the war so much more interesting. The National History Day program so far has allowed me to delve deeper into WWII history and has provided me with new perspectives on what I already know, allowing me to expand my mindset and understand the war in a new light."

While in Oahu, Jacob, Mr. O'Grady and the other eleven teams will be able to visit and explore the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, the Pacific Historic Parks, the USS Missouri Memorial Association, and the Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum at Pearl Harbor. "Learning about history in the classroom can only be supplemented so much without it becoming a repetition of facts. By actually going to the place where history happened is something else entirely. If you know the site of the historical event well enough, you can picture where everything happened and imagine the events actually taking place," says Jacob. "This program has allowed for different generations to come together to remember and pass on the information from one of the most horrific events in American history. From the information I hope to gather throughout this experience, I hope to play a part in helping educate more people about Pearl Harbor so that we never forget what happened."

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