You don’t need a time machine

Victor Duran

Modern American History students marched in a single file line to assemble in the dance room for a journey into the life of a World War I soldier on Oct. 23.

Every year the Modern American History teachers work together to give their students the best learning experience of what it was like to be a soldier during the WWI era.

Showing much zeal for their work, teachers wore boots and dressed in camouflage to imitate drill sergeants as they avidly marched with their students to the dance room for their first taste of war; teachers were even referred to as “Sir” and “Ma’am.”

First year teacher, Mr. Garcia gave a first-class performance while playing the role of a drill sergeant. Garcia’s class flawlessly marched in a single-file line to the rhythm of song under his command.

“I’ve done some coaching in the past, so acting like a drill sergeant came naturally to me,” Garcia said, “but, really, the experience was as new to me as it was for the students.”

Various history classes were given one week to remember a cadence that would be sung as they marched; cadences are effectively used to give soldiers morale as they march.

“I didn’t think anyone would even bother to learn the cadence that our teacher assigned us, but when the day came, more than half the class had memorized it,” junior Peter Segovia said. “When teachers make an effort to make learning fun, it really pays off.”

As the students approached the doorway to the dance room, they soon noticed that there was smoke seeping out. At the bottom of the “Chain of Command,” students were ordered by their “superior officers,” to literally drop and crawl into the smoke and through trench simulations, made up of plastic and construction paper, set up in front of both entrances of the dance room.

“I couldn’t wait to get out of those trenches,” junior Karen Velasco, said. “I had to crawl through a narrow space with a bunch of people around me; it was very uncomfortable.”

Eager to get to the other side of the trenches, students were destined to enter a dark, humid room with imitation smoke creeping on the floor, and even a plastic rodent hanging from the ceiling. The teachers were successful in creating an environment that was absolutely unbearable for the students.

“You think the war smelled good?,” Ms. Bell said, as one of the students complained about smell that lingered in the room. “Well, think again!”

Students were shown clips of military tactics used during WWI, including the constant bombardment on enemy troops, which was effectively used to instill fear and the use of mustard gas which poisoned and slowly killed soldiers as their lungs deteriorated.  Teachers even showered their students in flour to imitate mustard gas.

“The teachers went a little crazy with the flour, I was covered all over with it,” junior Jabine Negos said.

Students were also introduced to terms like “No Man’s Land,” the intermediary between enemy trenches that soldiers crossed while being heavily fired upon by the newly invented machine gun.

With a passion for the preservation of the past, the Modern American History teachers put their minds together every year to take students on a journey into the feats of the country’s past, a learning experience like no other, and surely one for future generations.