8th Graders Study WWI
Recently, 8th grade social studies classes commemorated the 100th Anniversary of America's entrance into World War I on April 6, 1917. In addition to studying the causes and effects of the war, students learned about the hardships and sacrifices required not only of soldiers, but by the American people on the home front during that time.
Concepts including conscription, propaganda, wartime civil liberties, international cooperation, and the evolution of linear warfare into trench warfare were also explored. Student inquiry into the reasons for this evolution took place in the form of an annual classroom trench warfare reenactment (video below) in which trenches, weapons, barbed wire, “No-Man's Land” obstacles, a frontal assault, and casualties were all simulated.
The 8th graders, many of whom read and studied “All Quiet on the Western Front” as part of their English Language Arts curriculum, also laid flowers at the Memorial Tablet in PMHS on the day of the 100th Anniversary in honor of those from Pelham who served during the war. Many 8th graders also visited the "Over There: America in World War I" exhibit at nearby St. Paul's Church National Historic Site in Mount Vernon.
"I think it is very important that the students understand the sacrifices inherent when a country commits itself to a struggle such as The Great War,” said 8th grade social studies teacher David Acocella. “During that time, kids their age were growing gardens on school athletic fields to help increase the food supply while kids not that much older than them were facing unimaginable horror in the trenches. It is so difficult for those of us who did not live through it to understand it, but if the students can begin to comprehend how the war impacted our town, that is the key towards their understanding of how it impacted the nation. For students about to attend a high school that was dedicated to the memory of those who fought and ‘the ideals for which they fought,’ I think it is especially important.”