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Longview Students Inspired By Amazing Americans

May 08, 2015 09:57PM ● Published by Julie Slama

Longview fifth-grader Adrianna Kirk, dressed as Pocahontas, shares facts about her Amazing American with second-grader Megan Kirk

Longview’s annual Amazing American presentation attracted dozens of families and other students April 16 as they asked fifth-grade students about their choices of amazing Americans they presented on tri-fold boards, through creative representations and reports.

The fifth-grade presenters narrowed down their top choices from a list created by their teachers that numbered more than 400 people.

“I like Miss Piggy and knew Jim Hensen made the Muppets and created Sesame Street, but I learned he did so many more shows and won so many awards; he really is a neat guy,” fifth grader Lexi Patterson said. “He started it all when he made a puppet to be on TV for five minutes every day.”

Melina Alamo selected Henry Ford as her amazing American since she is interested in cars.

“I brought in a carburetor, which is the heart of a car, and it ionizes the fuel for the engine,” she said. “I’ve seen a lot of factories and heard talk about the assembly line and wanted to know more about him and the cars Mr. Ford made.”

Students had to research facts about their person and fill out a planning sheet, which helps students learn writing, research and social studies requirements of the Utah Common Core.

“We wanted them to learn about their beliefs, their goals and be able to analyze and compare them to other people,” teacher Tina Nilsson said. “We want them to think about if that American had not lived and done the things that he or she did, how things would be different in our lives today. We want them to be inspired by people, not just learn facts about a state. It’s about people they read about, how many times they’ve failed and have tried again until they overcome obstacles. Or how they may have started out poor and impoverished and didn’t let that stop them from achieving great accomplishments. It’s what we talk about in class that we want them to take that message away.”
As part of the Amazing Americans project, Longview fifth-grader Nicc Winegar researched Jesse Owens and learned that his grandfather designed the Owens’ home in Phoenix.

 After researching, students then wrote a report as well as created tri-fold displays that included a timeline, a picture representative of their American, character traits and fun facts they learned. In addition, students presented a creative representation of their American, such as dressing like the person, writing songs or poems, and creating movies or sculptures. One student even made Milton Hershey’s factory out of Hershey candy bars. Nilsson estimated that the students spent at least 20 hours in class on the project.

Fifth grader Adrianna Kirk dressed as Pocahontas.

“I picked her because she is very brave and always stayed true to what she thinks,” she said. “She never changed her mind about who she was because of anyone else.”

“Learning about facts of a state or our country isn’t what it is all about. Learning about people and being able to say what he or she has done and how they have become successful citizens and used their influence to affect people’s lives is what America is about,” Nilsson said.

Marshall Benson knew Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the United States’ president who had a disease and served during World War II, but now he knows why he is on the dime.

“It was at a fundraiser that he asked all Americans to help stop polio,” he said. “He had it and didn’t want anyone to know so they didn’t think he was a pathetic president with a disability, but he also didn’t want anyone else to ever get it. People responded by sending in dimes and so he started the March of Dimes.”

Marshall’s mother, Kelly, said that it was fun to watch her son’s interest in the project.

“He gained a lot of interest and read four books because he wanted to do so much more,” she said. “He was excited to learn more and grew fascinated by FDR.”

Marshall’s friend, Nicc Winegar, researched Jesse Owens and learned interesting facts about him, such as while growing up, he grew a lump on his leg that he had removed and “that was the worse pain he ever went through,” even more than his training for his four gold medals, he said.

“His real name wasn’t Jesse; it was James Cleveland and he went by JC,” Nicc said. “But his teacher heard Jesse and that’s how it got changed.”

However, it was the day before the presentation when Nicc discovered a real connection, and this one to his own family. He learned that his maternal grandfather, Loy Clemens, was the architect for Owens’ home in Phoenix, and he was able to share the rendering with his classmates at the event.

“My grandpa designed his dream home in 1970, only I didn’t know that when I picked Jesse Owens. So that is kind of amazing to learn, too,” he said.        

The fifth-grade presenters narrowed down their top choices from a list created by their teachers that numbered more than 400 people.

“I like Miss Piggy and knew Jim Hensen made the Muppets and created Sesame Street, but I learned he did so many more shows and won so many awards; he really is a neat guy,” fifth grader Lexi Patterson said. “He started it all when he made a puppet to be on TV for five minutes every day.”

Melina Alamo selected Henry Ford as her amazing American since she is interested in cars.

“I brought in a carburetor, which is the heart of a car, and it ionizes the fuel for the engine,” she said. “I’ve seen a lot of factories and heard talk about the assembly line and wanted to know more about him and the cars Mr. Ford made.”

Students had to research facts about their person and fill out a planning sheet, which helps students learn writing, research and social studies requirements of the Utah Common Core.

“We wanted them to learn about their beliefs, their goals and be able to analyze and compare them to other people,” teacher Tina Nilsson said. “We want them to think about if that American had not lived and done the things that he or she did, how things would be different in our lives today. We want them to be inspired by people, not just learn facts about a state. It’s about people they read about, how many times they’ve failed and have tried again until they overcome obstacles. Or how they may have started out poor and impoverished and didn’t let that stop them from achieving great accomplishments. It’s what we talk about in class that we want them to take that message away.”



After researching, students then wrote a report as well as created tri-fold displays that included a timeline, a picture representative of their American, character traits and fun facts they learned. In addition, students presented a creative representation of their American, such as dressing like the person, writing songs or poems, and creating movies or sculptures. One student even made Milton Hershey’s factory out of Hershey candy bars. Nilsson estimated that the students spent at least 20 hours in class on the project.

Fifth grader Adrianna Kirk dressed as Pocahontas.

“I picked her because she is very brave and always stayed true to what she thinks,” she said. “She never changed her mind about who she was because of anyone else.”

“Learning about facts of a state or our country isn’t what it is all about. Learning about people and being able to say what he or she has done and how they have become successful citizens and used their influence to affect people’s lives is what America is about,” Nilsson said.

Marshall Benson knew Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the United States’ president who had a disease and served during World War II, but now he knows why he is on the dime.

“It was at a fundraiser that he asked all Americans to help stop polio,” he said. “He had it and didn’t want anyone to know so they didn’t think he was a pathetic president with a disability, but he also didn’t want anyone else to ever get it. People responded by sending in dimes and so he started the March of Dimes.”

Marshall’s mother, Kelly, said that it was fun to watch her son’s interest in the project.

“He gained a lot of interest and read four books because he wanted to do so much more,” she said. “He was excited to learn more and grew fascinated by FDR.”

Marshall’s friend, Nicc Winegar, researched Jesse Owens and learned interesting facts about him, such as while growing up, he grew a lump on his leg that he had removed and “that was the worse pain he ever went through,” even more than his training for his four gold medals, he said.

“His real name wasn’t Jesse; it was James Cleveland and he went by JC,” Nicc said. “But his teacher heard Jesse and that’s how it got changed.”

However, it was the day before the presentation when Nicc discovered a real connection, and this one to his own family. He learned that his maternal grandfather, Loy Clemens, was the architect for Owens’ home in Phoenix, and he was able to share the rendering with his classmates at the event.

“My grandpa designed his dream home in 1970, only I didn’t know that when I picked Jesse Owens. So that is kind of amazing to learn, too,” he said.        
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