September 28, 2016
ParkEDU, a program funded entirely by Pacific Historic Parks (PHP), engaged a total of 29,568 students from 536 schools and youth groups this past school year.
For 2015-2016, ParkEDU approached schools differently by visiting the schools prior to the schools visiting World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument (VALR). By the end of 2015, ParkEDU staff along with Pearl Harbor witness Jimmy Lee were conducting presite visits to classrooms. Mr. Lee enjoys sharing his story about when he was a “rascal little boy and watched the attacks unfold less than a mile from his house,” and these visits have helped the students learn about the National Park Service and prepare for their visit.
Increasing student visits to the park was an objective set forth by the Ticket to Ride program, via a grant from the National Park Foundation (NPF). PHP matched the grant, dollar for dollar. ParkEDU exceeded the goals set forth by the NPF and brought in eight schools and two youth organizations, totaling nearly 1,500 students from across Oahu who otherwise would not have been able to visit.
This year, ParkEDU also created a new program called Two Questions and an Arrowhead. The program has students working together as a team to answer two questions. Each team is given a different set of questions. Once the students return from the Arizona Memorial, they are given a chance to ask ParkEDU team members questions. The students are then sent home with the task of creating an arrowhead that expresses their thoughts or feelings about their field trip. We ask them to draw or write within the arrowhead border how VALR makes them feel. The overall reaction to this program has been wonderful and a great success, and both the students and the teachers enjoy this program.
In June, ParkEDU welcomed Kenneth “Mitch” Mitchell, a former VALR park guide, to our team as the educational curriculum coordinator. A recent graduate of Hawaii Pacific University with a master’s in education, Mitch has spent much of his time researching and observing the programs fellow Educational Specialist Lau Sualevai and I have given to our summer groups. Mitch and Education Coordinator Frank Middleton are working closely with the African-American Cultural and Diversity Center of Hawaii and the Hawaii Department of Education on creating the Teacher Workshop for this October 2016.
In July, ParkEDU conducted its first international virtual classroom visit between Mr. Lee and Kinjo Gakuin High School in Japan. At the end of July, the students from Kinjo Gakuin came to VALR and laid a wreath at the Memorial on behalf of their school and town. The students also presented Mr. Lee with a gift in appreciation for his commitment to sharing his story and the story of Pearl Harbor with their class.