Students got to see the events of the war in a new light.

March 12, 2019

World War II Immersion Day took place on Feb. 4, 2019. This was a day dedicated to gaining a deeper knowledge and understanding of WWII for seniors. Students gathered together in the auditorium and watched a webinar on African American participation in the war, watched the movie “Dunkirk” and then broke out into small groups for discussion.

“‘Dunkirk’ was a really cool movie to watch and it was able to show me three different perspectives on the same topic, which is hard to do by just learning in a classroom,” Shannon Maharajh, IB senior said.

After watching “Dunkirk,” students were assigned to teachers, and participated in various activities in each breakout session. In the English section of the break-off, the teachers and students discussed the validity of different historical sources, including the movie. They read an excerpt from a soldier who was evacuated from Dunkirk, and by doing this they were able to discuss the book, “Atonement.” They discussed the character Robbie’s perspective on the evacuation differed from that of the soldier there, which may prove useful for the IB Exam. The science department participated in the immersion day as well this year, and were able to discuss technological advancements that were made during the war. The nice thing about the English and science departments participation in the Immersion Day is that it was an opportunity for the three disciplines to work together towards the same goal. History reinforced the occurrence and schematics of the Dunkirk evacuation,  which corresponded well with the book that the senior English classes were reading “Atonement,” and the science department got to discuss advancements that are not usually in their curriculum. It showed the significance of scientific research and productivity in directing WWII and why the victory ultimately went towards the direction of the allies.

“I hoped that students, through an enjoyable experience, get a little more awareness of some aspects of WWII that would help them on their exams coming up in May. I think for the most part students got an opportunity to learn in a more relaxed environment, which perhaps made them a bit more conducive to learning,” David Traill, IB history teacher said.

The webinar was about the participation of African Americans in the war and the conditions that they worked under. Some of the topics discussed were the work life and tragedy at Port Chicago as well as the Tuskegee Airmen, a famous group of African American military pilots that served during the war. The webinar was somewhat middle school oriented, but students learned from it and it was not too complicated. It is something that students can recall with facts about African American participation that, as a result, will be very helpful for them down the road on their IB exam.

“It was interesting to watch, however, I think there is a definite need to find something on a more mature level, my entire row was sleeping,”  IB senior Rileigh Hanley said.

Lastly, Choral and Theatre Director Stephanie Nixdorf gave a presentation on her family background and how WWII affected her family and her life story. It allowed students to gain knowledge about how the war continues to impact people to this day and that the people affected are more than statistics.

“They got a variety of different opinions and approaches, whether it was the movie or working with the history and English combinations and seeing how World War II had an impact in Mrs. Nixdorf’s life, for example,” Traill said.

Through this immersion day, students were able to get a deeper understanding of the war. By taking a day from normal school work to do this, the students were able to appreciate the effort exerted in creating this and the information that they received. Students liked the fact that there were no assessments going on that day, they had nothing to study or prepare for. Due to this, teachers did not have a lot of students that were distracted by their phones or upcoming assignments.

“They seemed to genuinely enjoy what they were experiencing and that was nice because it meant that they were valuing what we were trying to give them,”  Traill said.

While there is always room for improvement in any circumstance, the event was a success. There are plans in the making for a World War I immersion day, but they are currently on hold.

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