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Talking with troops: All students should get the chance
A third-grade class in Auburn got a treat on Wednesday that all New Hampshire schoolchildren should get: a visit from a member of the U.S. armed forces.
The Auburn students got a lot more than a visit. Through mail, they got to know a soldier over the course of the school year, and then that exceptional learning experience was capped by a live chat with the young man on Wednesday.
The whole thing was arranged by teacher Gail Boucher and soldier Max Luciani through Luciani’s fiance Karyn Sampson, who taught with Boucher at Auburn Village School. After Luciani was deployed to Afghanistan, Boucher’s students wrote to him, and in the months that followed he wrote back. That in itself is a horizon-broadening experience that too few children get to have. But getting to speak with a soldier firsthand upon his return from a war zone? What a very special experience.
Going into our second decade in Afghanistan, it is easy to forget that the United States still has 90,000 troops there. These are men and women who volunteered for that dangerous duty, and their stories are incredibly important for young people trying to understand their own country as well as the wider world of which we are just one part.
New Hampshire fourth-graders take a field trip to the State House in Concord to learn about civics. Students in other grades take field trips to state parks and historic sites. Schools often bring police officers and firefighters as well as private-sector professionals to speak to students.
Imagine what our children could learn about our country and our world were all students able to speak directly with an active-duty member of the armed forces or a veteran. Were the state Department of Education to devise a program for coordinating such interactions, the educational payoff would be well worth the effort.
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