Once the SOLs are over, it's sometimes hard to find something to motivate the students. To counter that, Caroline Ona and Jeanne Davis, seventh grade history teachers at Carl Sandburg Middle School, decided to have their students participate in a Memorials Expo.
"Since we had SOLs in May, we came up with this idea during in service. Ms. Davis really wanted to do it," Ona said. "The students worked really hard. Every student turned in a project, and it was all done on their own time, outside of school."
Instead of doing busy work, the students spent the last few weeks of school talking about memorials, deciding on a theme for a memorial and then creating a memorial. They could work alone or in groups. The memorials were presented the last week of school to parents and fellow students in short sessions throughout the day.
Each session began with an explanation of the expo and then a short slide show which depicted memorials around the world. While most of the memorials were actual designs, four of the students decided to create their memorial with a song.
Grace Powell, Gloria Powell, Chanel Padgett and Simone Sumlin gave a performance by singing a song they wrote themselves, "It's so Cruel What They Did," remembering the Birmingham Church Bombing in 1963.
After the introduction, parents and students were free to browse among the 50-plus exhibits on display in the library. Topics ranged from the present: 9/11 and sniper victims to past events: Pearl Harbor and Rosa Parks.
One innovative student created the Memorial Dog Park, where he gave tribute to the dogs who have served in the military. Travis Bloodworth said that of the 10,000 dogs that served in the Vietnam War, only 300 come back.
"Most were used to find bombs or deliver notes," Bloodworth said. He also had information about Smokey, a yorkey who served in World War I and Stubby, who was famous for alerting soldiers to danger by jumping into dug-outs; he also found a German spy.
Yojana Escobar and Phuong Mai Tran created a memorial dedicated to last year's sniper victims. It lists the victim's names.
"We haven't seen any memorials dedicated to the sniper victims, so we decided to make one," said the girls. Jessica Marr did the same with her memorial to Rosa Parks.
"I didn't think that there was one, and she started the boycott, so it was important," Marr said.
Chris Shields, Brian Lilienthal, Jon Baca and Kyle Hayden worked on "Casualties of Kamikazes," a memorial to Pearl Harbor. One of the boys said, "Watching 'Pearl Harbor' [the movie] bothered me and made me feel bad."
THE STUDENTS were not only judged on the design of the memorial itself, but on the presentation as well. Visiting students were given sheets with questions to ask, including: What does your memorial honor? What is special about it to you? How did you create your memorial? What have you learned from building this memorial?
Students voted for Best Design and Best Presenter. Those winners were later announced. In the category of Best Design, first place went to "Freedom Tower," designed by Emily Rapavi, Fallon Williams, Taylor Briggs and Camille Morgan; second place to "Oklahoma City Bombing" by Ashley Irastorza; and third place to "Civil Rights Memorial," designed by Devin Matthews, Dillion Matthews, Andy Funk and Brendan Murphy.
In the category of Best Presenter, first place went to "Birmingham Church Bombing 1963," presented by singers Grace Powell, Gloria Powell, Chanel Padgett and Simone Sumlin; second place to "9/11," designed by Arthur Genuario, Will Kreger, Michael Vaughn and Charlie Paullin; and third place for the "FDR memorial," designed by Devin Cruttenden, Ashleigh Lehmann, Andrew Brynczak and David Gililland.
Honorable Mentions went to: Meredith Henderson, "Holocaust Memorial;" Jan Gabourel, "Princess Diana Memorial;" Arnold Angieli, "World Trade Center Memorial;" Patrick Bostick and Steven Groves, "Aviation Memorial;" Mohammed Eisa and Jeff Flores, "Al Capone Memorial;" Meghan Connor, Lucy Biesenbach, Kara Samornanski and Kristin Brinckerhoff, "Holocaust memorial;" Steven Paul, "Gulf War Memorial;" and Maxey Mitchell, Ali Davis, Hannah Maynard, "Ella Fitzgerald Harlem Renaissance Memorial."