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Syms students visit Virginia War Memorial

Seventh grade students from Syms Middle School were selected to visit the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond.  The trip was made possible with a grant from the Virginia War Museum in Richmond.  Syms was one of only three schools in Virginia that received the grant, which helped pay for a substitute and the price of transportation.

The presentation was called “WWI – The Great War”, and was in partnership with The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library.

The students received a 45 minute presentation from Susan Laser of the Wilson Library, entitled “Over There  . . . Over Here: The Great War.”  The presentation encouraged the discussion of WWI propaganda posters, allowed selected students to wear battle gear, and enabled students to draw conclusions about the life of our American GIs in the trenches and life on the home front.  History came alive through an authentic WWI trunk filled with artifacts and primary resources that tell the story of the ‘the war to end all wars’.

Alexander Barnes, command historian with the Virginia National Guard, shared stories of interest that you do not read about in the textbook – those human stories that make us laugh and cry. 

At the end of the presentations, the students assembled in the Shrine of Memory for a wreath laying and moment of silence to honor our Virginia heroes.

“The students learned from hands-on demonstrations and artifacts how life was like for the WWI soldiers,” said Athena Sivongsa, seveth grade social studies teacher at Syms.  “They also saw experiences from Americans that were captured in photos or re-enacted on video.” 

The students were given names of soldiers who died from Virginia and had to find them on the wall of remembrance.  
Sivongsa said, “Although it was only two hours long, students were excited to participate in the presentations and demonstrations, as well as remembering those who have died for our country.  For some, it really hit home because they knew some of the names or recognized pictures of those who most recently have perished.


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HCS does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age or other protected classes in its programs and activities and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Robbin G. Ruth, Executive Director, Human Resources, One Franklin Street, Hampton, VA 23669 757-727-2000. 

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