A trio of students at Russell-McDowell Intermediate School are nearing total completion on a project that will help inform visitors to the Greenup County War Memorial.
Zaina Razak, Xander Everman and Jimmylee Mullins have worked throughout the year to create webpages for each piece of equipment and exhibit at the memorial. The final pieces of the project will be installed this month.
Razak shared that the students will sometimes stop by the memorial on their way back from field trips. The equipment was interesting to look at, but they wanted to know more.
“We were talking with the kids and other teachers … about how it would be nice if there was something that would let people know a little bit more about these pieces of equipment or a little bit more about what they are looking at,” said RMIS teacher and STLP coach Shane Jordan.
The idea has not only been successfully implemented, but is award-winning.
The students worked on the project in STLP at their school. STLP (student technology leadership program) is a statewide program that empowers students to solve community-based problems using technology.
“So I may not know when (a piece of equipment) was used or what date is was used or maybe there was a really famous attack or battle those were used,” said Everman. “Which happened with the Howitzer … it was used in war on D-Day. So that was a really important part.”
Everman continued, sharing his knowledge about the Howitzer and it’s significance due to its use during World War II, specifically in Normandy, France.
“That was probably the most important (battle) because that’s where they basically led them to victory,” said Everman.
The students researched and translated their knowledge and findings about the exhibits at the memorial to a website. Each one has its own page, which the students designed and built themselves.
Mullins picked up a Chromebook and clicked to a page on the website to show off their work. The students placed QR codes at each exhibit. Visitors can scan the code and it will link them directly to the page, Mullins explained.
A survey is available for visitors that allow the students to understand who visits the memorial, where they are from and if they have been there before. They will continue to look at the responses.
Razak showed off the spreadsheet and shared that they recently added a question to know where people are coming from to visit the memorial. They will know how far their project will reach.
“We have lots of information, like diagrams,” said Mullins.
The website is filled with photos.
“We took all these photos on our website ourselves, and we actually put these on the ground there,” said Mullins.
He was referring to the aluminum stands with the QR codes. The students also recorded information that people can listen to about the exhibits.
The students partnered with the high school welding students to create the stands. Most were placed in the ground at the memorial. However, a few were not near dirt and will need to be bolted into the concrete.
Jordan said the welding class is busy with many projects and it was special for them to take the time to help the younger kids.
Along with the high school student, the kids worked with Chief Information Officer Greta Casto who has a Glowforge. Casto engraved the QR codes and labels into epoxy resin business cards that were placed on top of the aluminum stands the welding class created.
“They gave a lot of people the chance to be a part of something,” said Jordan.
The students learned about Ernie West, who was instrumental in the creation of the Greenup County War Memorial, said Jordan. West is a Medal of Honor and Purple Heart Recipient, and a veteran of the U.S. Army who fought in the Korean War.
Everman shared what he had learned about West’s life from his time with C&O Railway to his military career. Everman said West experienced grenades rolling toward him, and “saved everyone that day!”
Everman is referring to the actions of West in Sataeri, Korea, when his unit was ambushed. West, through heavy fire or rifles and grenades, placed himself between him and his lieutenant, who was injured and exposed to the fire, according to the National Medal of Honor Museum. The lieutenant survived the war.
West was injured and lost his left eye in the incident, but stayed on the battlefield and rescued more men from his unit. He took out six enemy soldiers in the process.
The students were excited to share that they were able to talk with West’s daughter. She shared about her father, and gave Jordan and each student West’s challenge coin.
The trio won Best K-5 Project at the Kentucky STLP competition in Lexington. Since the students have been back, they have been overwhelmed with support and praise.
They held their own throughout a plethora of interviews with judges. Jordan said he was proud of their maturity and how they each represented themselves and the school.
Everman said that the “big kids” he has never met before, but sees at football games have come up to congratulate him.
“It’s great to hear,” said Everman.
Jordan shared that the high school STLP team has been extremely supportive of their young counterparts. When they won the state championship, Jordan said the high schoolers wanted to carry them out on their shoulders.
The older students didn’t account for how tall the fifth-graders were and had to settle for excitedly waving their arms and posing with the kids.
A large banner now hangs in the Russell-McDowell gymnasium emblazoned with the STLP logo and “State Champions 2022” across it. Everman said they got to unroll the banner in front of the whole school. A cool moment for the winners.
They will head to New Orleans in June for the International Society for Technology in Education to present their project once again.