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One Book, One School Takes Students ‘On the Wings of Heroes’

Mantua – For the fourth year in a row, lively literacy takes Crestwood Intermediate students well beyond the pages of a book. At least as far as Canton, Ohio, to the Military Aviation Preservation Society (MAPS) museum. That’s where students and staff recently visited, as a part of the fourth annual One Book, One School program, and thanks to a generous grant from the Hiram Community Trust. Although the students didn’t see a B-17 like the one in the book, “On the Wings of Heroes,” that the entire school is reading, they had the opportunity to meet veterans who did. One such individual is WWII veteran Ralph Lynn, who flew 32 missions during the war. Lynn, who is now 94 years old, serves as a tour guide at the museum, where the leather bomber jacket he wore during those missions is now on display. He served as a guide for several groups of Crestwood students, leading them through the museum’s aircraft and displays.

Lynn has a good deal of experience sharing the MAPS museum with older folks like himself, who lived through that time.  However, he noted the difficulty he sometimes has in sharing his experiences with younger children with little knowledge of that time. Since the Crestwood students were currently learning about the war through the One Book, One School program, Lynn was able to, “add a little more meat to what they’ve read,” and give them a more real picture of those who served.

While at the MAPS museum, students had the opportunity to climb aboard a C-41 plane to learn how troops may have felt as they prepared to invade Normandy, or see a variety of aircraft on display and under restoration, including a MiG-17, B-26 Marauder, and AH-1 Cobra aircrafts. They also had the opportunity to climb aboard a Goodyear GZ-22 Blimp Gondola. In addition, groups had the opportunity to tour a ‘MASH’ era field hospital; similar to the one museum guide Ted Mathies served at as a medic in Viet Nam. Within the one tent on display, Mathies explained how soldiers could receive treatment for minor discomforts like a sore throats or cavities, to major surgeries like amputations, removing shrapnel, or, “putting your nose back on your face.”

Mathies shared that a 200-bed field hospital’s 27 tents can be set up in 24 hours anywhere in the world. He encouraged visitors to handle the instruments, tools, and equipment, and ask lots of questions. When asked about an odd-looking canvas bag with a hanging loop on top, and watering can sprinkler at the bottom, he explained to shocked students how to use a field shower, explaining, “If you wanted privacy, you’d have to close your eyes.”

MAPS museum literature notes that, “History was not made by airplanes, but by the men and women who designed, build and flew them.” As such, students had the opportunity to experience aviation up close through a tour of the museum’s Gallery of Heroes. They saw artifacts, learned about the men and women who served during the war, and saw a piece of the USS Arizona, sunk by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor.

As we stood under the 1908 Martin Glider, Ralph Lynn remarked excitedly, “Look how far we’ve come in 100 years,” noting the development from a simple wood and canvas glider to high-tech machines for travel to the moon. “I’d love to be around to see how far we can come in the next 100 years,” he concluded.

So what did students think of their experience at MAPS? Kylie, a fourth-grader, liked the opportunity to go inside a plane to find out what it’s like to be a paratrooper, like her father. Her classmate Jackson, an automotive enthusiast, added, “I liked viewing the planes, and trying to identify the different parts.”  For more information on the MAPS museum, visit www.mapsmuseum.org.

Back at Crestwood Intermediate, students have their own mini-museum. “It’s just amazing that all this came out of a book,” marvels Crestwood Intermediate guidance counselor Gary Traveny, as he looks around the darkened classroom. The classroom-turned-memorabilia museum is filled with photographs, uniforms, artifacts, and multimedia materials about the Second World War, on loan from community members. The temporary exhibit was compiled to augment the special month-long ‘One Book, One School’ program at CIS. The featured book, ‘On the Wings of Heroes,’ by Richard Peck, is the story of a young boy, and his brother who flies B-17s during World War II.

As you enter CIS, and come face-to-face with a vintage Army Jeep®, you know that the school is entranced with  the book. The entire school — roughly 400 students and staff from grades three through five – has been reading the book, and they have toured the exhibit to study the materials, and learn what individuals  from this generation experienced in the WWII. Through the exhibit, students had the opportunity to hear a recording of the Andrews Sisters singing “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” and see a video clip of Kate Smith singing Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America.”

They heard the amazing, true story of Nicholas Winton, a stockbroker from London, who saved 669 Jewish children from death at the hands of the Nazis in Czechoslovakia. Students were surprised to learn how the British version of the Monopoly board game was used to help troops shot down in Germany escape POW camps.  Through the interpretive classroom, students saw German and Japanese memorabilia, as well as a copy of the August 14, 1945 Akron Beacon Journal newspaper noting the end of the war in the Pacific. The materials are on loan from private collectors including the Tayerle family, Mr. Delcalzo, the Marusiak Family, Mrs. Krupar and Mr. Traveny.

This year, CIS students are supporting the National Museum of the U.S. Army through the purchase of personalized dog tags. In addition, students and community members have the opportunity to register an Army veteran through a soldier registry at no charge. Soldiers registered through this program will be included in an exhibit at the National Museum of the U.S. Army in Virginia. During past One Book, One School programs, CIS has supported the Flight 93 Memorial, provided Vermont Teddy Bears to Akron Children’s Hospital, and supplied books to an elementary school in Akron through the First Book organization.

The month-long program concludes at 9 am on Friday, May 23rd, when a plaque will be installed to honor Adam Hamilton, the brother of Crestwood student Nick Kreston. Hamilton was killed while serving in Afghanistan four years ago. The plaque will be placed near a tree that was planted in Hamilton’s honor shortly after his death. After the brief ceremony, students and staff will participate in a jalopy parade, featuring area veterans. For more information on the program, contact Gary Traveny at Crestwood Primary, (330) 357-8203.

 

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