SYRACUSE, NY (NCC News) – Students at Expeditionary Learning Middle School (ELMS) had the chance to interview United States Veterans on Thursday, March 28. The event was part of the school’s “Through the Eyes of Our Veterans” expedition that finds creative and interactive ways to teach history, while also following New York state’s education curriculum. According to social studies teacher Kevin Coir, the program most specifically teaches students about conflict in history involving the United States.
“We wanted to provide some really key understanding in different content areas around [the curriculum] – how does it effect people’s lives, what are the consequences of these conflicts, and how do we honor sacrifice,” said Coir.
Coir says this is the 10th year of the program, and it has changed “drastically.” He said as times have changed, one thing remains the same.
“They [veterans] are just shocked that kids are supporting and being exposed to different ideas, so the reaction has been tremendous,” he says.
Coir adds that the program is similar to a course that would be taught at ELMS. Students start with what he calls a “kickoff” event that helps build engagement and increase excitement for those participating. Next, students get to sit down and interview local veterans – which they did today as well as several times prior throughout the school year. After that, Coir says the program culminates at an event held at the Onondaga Country War Memorial on June 20.
“It’s a celebration of the students learning and their transformation of how this project impacted them. The hard work is on showcase at a key institution in Syracuse,” he explains.
According to Coir, ELMS invites the most “authentic audience possible,” which features families of veterans, parents of students, and other school personnel. He says the event has been held at the War Memorial in each of the six years he has taught at the middle school.