I needed to tell this story similar to the last prompt but representative of this week’s prompt as part of the #edublogsclub weekly inspiration. This isn’t about student problem or project-based instruction rather than problem-based work that I recently completed with the help of colleagues and happens a few times a year. But this one affected me more.
Our library stores copies of old yearbooks. And because our school dates back to 1868, needless to say there’s some history. Our yearbook collection begins in 1918 and while many don’t come looking for ones that old, they are still looked through. Yet recently, we’ve been getting requests for pictures of alumni from the 1960’s. Can you guess why? Many of our students went off to war. Some never graduated. Some graduated, left for war, and never returned. And projects taken over by citizens to be sure they are properly memorialized means having to track down their high school yearbooks for a picture. Some do not have pictures next to their names on memorial walls because there wasn’t one and they want to be sure they are properly memorialized.
That means that when we’re contacted, the wheels begin turning. We had two high schools, so look through the yearbooks for an indication, if not contact our registrar to see if there is a file in our basement of past graduates and attendees. If they didn’t attend here or briefly, is there any information about where they left to or came from. Is it at our city hall if they went to a school which is now defunct? And so begins the circle, because to simply reply: “they did not graduate from here” or “they did graduate from here but aren’t in the yearbook, sorry” do not cut it. Not for this lady. I want to empower them with as many leads or as much information as possible. And that truly is problem-based and feels more like a quest than anything else.
We want our students not give ask yes or no questions and we want them to not give yes or no answers back, but to explore. And each time we field a call or email, we are leading by example.
And what was the resolution to this request? Our veteran who died in the second-worst helicopter accident in Vietnam. We have yearbook photos from another school district in his freshman and sophomore classes, but no transcript indicating that he actually graduated from our school, though we do know he attended for a brief time. It is fascinating to read about his story, see a picture of a fifteen year old boy, and know the sacrifices that he made.