Yokota High School visited by historical dignitaries

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Julia Child, here played by sophomore Emily Mitchell, answers questions about her impact on culinary culture and America in general. Photos by Greg Holladay
Julia Child, here played by sophomore Emily Mitchell, answers questions about her impact on culinary culture and America in general. Photos by Greg Holladay

Yokota High School visited by historical dignitaries

by: Greg Holladay | .
Yokota High School | .
published: May 30, 2013

YOKOTA AB, Japan — Thirty-three historical characters, from political figures like Che Guevara and Woodrow Wilson, to cultural icons like Julia Child and Laura Ingalls Wilder, or their representatives, visited Yokota High School on Wednesday, May 29 at the school’s annual “Mover and Shaper” Conference.

The characters were actually students in the 10th Grade Integrated Honors World History/World Literature classes.

Mr. Greg Holladay, the Honors World Literature teacher explained that these sophomores spent much of the year immersed in this ‘Power of One’ project, where they focus on the impact of a historical character on politics and/or culture.   “Their job at the conference is to show the guests how their subject ‘moved’ and ‘shaped’ society,” he said.

Over the course of the year, students study primary sources and other published materials, then write several papers on the subject, culminating with a ten- to twelve-page research paper.

At the end-of-year conference, students have the choice of either becoming the person or becoming someone close to the subject—an expert nonetheless on the person’s life and impact.   The expectation, of course, is that they have become experts on the life and impact of their chosen subjects.

Students had many reasons for choosing their particular characters.  Ella Donado, who was Ronald Reagan at the conference, said she chose him as her Power of One subject because “he is one of America’s most respected presidents, and I liked him even before the school year began.  I like him even more now.”

Not everyone chose historical heroes.  Some chose villains.  Dylan Sowell, who studied the architect of the Nazi death camps in World War II, Heinrich Himmler, said he wanted to know the history of such a character.  “I wanted to know why someone would do the things that he did,” Sowell said.

At the conference, students and teachers from the school, as well as parents and community members, visited with the historical characters.  Some of the guest adults acted as official evaluators, giving feedback to the students’ teachers about the students’ knowledge of their subjects after the conference was over.
After it was all over, Honors World History instructor, Mr. Ruby, said, “These kids impressed me.  A week before the conference, we weren’t sure they’d pull it off, but they came through and did a great job.”

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