A Tribute to Pearl Harbor

A Tribute to Pearl Harbor
Posted on 05/25/2017
Pearl Harbor

December 7, 1941 started out like a normal day, but the mass destruction caused by the bombing of Pearl Harbor left no one untouched.  While it has been part of history for many decades, reading a fictional trilogy about the attack moved students in Cindy Glover’s Language Arts Class to immerse themselves in the day’s events, as well as the aftermath, by completing a class presentation entitled, “A Look Back in History,” about the attack on Pearl Harbor, utilizing Project Based Learning (PBL) principles.

“The students were inspired to do this project after we read a trilogy of fiction books that were about historical events.  The names of the books were, Boy at War, Boy No More, and Heroes Don’t Run, by Harry Mazer, and after we read them, the students in Mrs. Glover’s class decided to do a project about Pearl Harbor,” said Ann Vandehaar, Spencer Middle School (SMS) Teacher’s Associate.  Glover went on to explain that the students got to select what they wanted to contribute to the project.  From building model airplanes and ships and creating a timeline, to exploring the history of Pearl Harbor and native Hawaiian foods and dress, there was something to engage everyone, and when the work was completed, the classroom was transformed into a tribute to Pearl Harbor, with student-led tours given to the entire middle school student body and staff.

Upon approaching Mrs. Glover’s classroom, hula dancers greeted the visitors.  Once inside, Lizzy explained the timeline of Pearl Harbor and the conflict that caused the attack, noting that the widespread destruction happened in less than two hours.  The tour continued to a model of the USS Arizona built by Cole and the USS Oklahoma built by Raul.  Both of the boys shared information about their respective ships, and Cole also showed the model he built of the memorial, saying that his ship, the Arizona, sunk and still resides under the memorial today. 

As Raul was constructing his ship, local media sources were abuzz about the remains of Fireman 1st Class William H. Kennedy, who was killed while aboard the USS Oklahoma, during the attack.  His remains were found and identified using DNA analysis, and were recently brought back to Iowa for proper burial.  Kennedy has ties to a Spencer family that shared his actual obituary to display during the tour. 

Olivia built a model of the USS California which was rebuilt after the bombing and still stands today, and Jaycee shared about Hawaii and the after effects of Pearl Harbor.  All of the students worked on the replica of Pearl Harbor, which included Battleship Row.  Of the eight ships targeted by the Japanese, only one got away, the USS Nevada.  Constructed by Saul, he shared, “The USS Nevada weighs over 22,800 tons. There were 19 Americans who survived and 2498 people who died on the ship.”  While building the Lego model, Saul buried two men inside to symbolize those who were stuck on the ship, and ended by saying, “It took me four hours to build, and it took my friend, Jose, 15 minutes to build his planes.”  The planes to which Saul referred were the replicas Jose built of the Japanese fighter planes used to bomb the U.S. Navy battleships.

Vandehaar brought her dad’s naval uniforms to display, and though her father George wasn’t actually at Pearl Harbor, the students researched and found out that they were the exact uniforms worn.  Aaron explained that one of the uniforms was for a seaman and the other, an officer.  Erin, Jordan and Trinity rounded out the tour highlighting native Hawaiian foods.  Selecting a few that people might like, pineapples and mangos, along with Kalua Pig and sweet potato chips, were served.

By the time the tour was over, visitors had the opportunity to see an overview of everything that happened on December 7, 1941.  “It is really cool because the students researched and learned so much about Pearl Harbor.  They are so proud of their work, and they will take their projects home and be able to remember this forever,” said Glover.