Eighth-grade class at Yokota celebrates National History Day
Stars and Stripes May 2, 2004
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Yokosuka Middle School 8th grade students celebrated National History Day on Friday.
And although April 30 — nor any day for that matter — is not officially recognized as National History Day, the 85 attending students lived up to the program’s motto of, “It’s not just a day … it’s an experience.”
Friday’s celebrations involved student performances and exhibits related to history.
“There is probably not a better place in the world to make history come alive than here in Asia,” said Kay Taylor, Yokosuka Middle School’s history-day coordinator and an 8th grade U.S. history teacher at the school.
She said the event was far more rigorous than a regular history project.
The students “choose their topics after looking at things in world history that tie into this year’s theme” of exploration, exchange and encounter, said Taylor.
Having the students pick their own topics forced them to think critically about their decisions, she said. “How does their topic tie to U.S. society? World society? How does it impact on the world and why is it important?
“The hope is when it’s all over with, the kids will have a better understanding of their connections to their world and simply have a greater fondness for history all around them,” said Taylor.
“I really liked the chance to show how much work we had done,” said Ashley Bailey, 13. She portrayed a newspaper boy in the Newsboy Strike of 1899 performance with Meagan Everston, 13, Geraldine Fiesta, 14, and Karen “Kayzelle” Pickens 14 — a performance which won second place.
“I’ve had a lot of fun,” said Calvin Dockendorff, 13. With Matthew Duncan, 13, he presented a skit — on Gen. Douglas McArthur’s impact on Japanese society — which won first prize in the performance category. Dockendorff portrayed Edward R. Murrow interviewing Gen. Douglas McArthur in post-World War II Tokyo.
“I’ve learned a lot,” said Dockendorff. “I never realized the impact that Gen. McArthur had in Japan and World War II.”
“The students have obviously put a lot of work into their performances,” said Cmdr. Richard Hendren, Yokosuka Naval Base’s chief of staff. He was one of four judges grading the displays and performances. History day, he said, “is an outstanding idea.
“Most of America is pretty ignorant of history, and the lessons it teaches us. If we can get our young people to have a love for history early in life, maybe we won’t be quite so prone to repeat our errors as we move through life.”