Return to Headlines

11-10-15 — Millbrooke Students Capture Veterans' Stories

Nov. 10, 2015 ~ As a young school only in its second year, Millbrooke Elementary School is just beginning some of its traditions. One activity that shows great potential as a longstanding tradition is learning more about veterans by interviewing them in person and making short movies for the entire school to enjoy.

Library media specialist Julie Makela coordinated the project because “I felt it was important for students to have an understanding of the importance of Veterans Day.

“Each grade level learns about Veterans Day in some capacity starting in kindergarten and culminating in fifth grade with students interviewing veterans,” Makela said. “Part of my library curriculum is making sure students know what a primary source is, and what better way to teach that concept than through this project.”

By reaching out to the community through the school newsletter, Makela found parents, grandparents, former Youth Friends, and others who served in the military and were interested in participating.

“This year we had a kindergarten student whose grandpa was visiting from Florida,” she said. “He used part of his vacation to come in and talk with the fifth-graders.”

Even as young as kindergarten, students learn about Veterans Day. Kindergartners discuss what a soldier does and his/her equipment. First- and second-graders learn about the Veterans Day holiday on Nov. 11. Third-grade curriculum already includes the Constitution and Bill of Rights, so Makela helps students focus on how veterans protect these rights. In fourth grade, the students use a thesaurus to explore the characteristics of a hero. The in-person interview with a veteran takes place in fifth grade.

“Many fifth-graders come up with surface level questions to ask, so it is interesting for me to watch the follow-up questions take shape during the interviews,” Makela said. “Many students start the hour believing everyone is an infantry member of the Army and end the hour understanding that there are five branches of the armed forces and many different roles within each branch.”

She also likes seeing how a relationship builds between students and veterans.

“I like watching interviewers and interviewees develop a mutual respect for one another,” Makela said. “The veterans are very complimentary of the students they work with, and the fifth-graders realize that these men and women truly have made some significant sacrifices for our country.”