Rocky Run Middle School will hold its annual World War II Oral History Day on Thursday, June 7, beginning with an opening ceremony at 8 AM.
This annual event hosts over 100 World War II veterans and witnesses to the events of that war who discuss their recollections with seventh grade students.
Rocky Run tradition
This is the 11th year of the World War II Oral History Day project at Rocky Run. Social studies teacher Jamie Sawatzky, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) 2011 Teacher of the Year, and his students invite World War II veterans or other witnesses to World War II to come to the school and discuss their experiences with the seventh grade history classes.
This is accomplished through a series of interviews conducted in either small panel groups of three to five veterans, or individual groups with one veteran or witness being interviewed by a group of four to five students. The students have prepared for this day through their studies as well as learning about their interviewees’ experiences.
The school also refers to the day as “The Latest Generation Meets the Greatest Generation.” Guests are greeted by the school band playing music from the 1940s. They are then paired up with a chaperone-guide who will escort the guest around the school, enabling them to navigate the school and attend the various interview sessions. Each guest will have about four or five interview sessions with seventh grade history students.
Chamber music as well as student skits and music from the era are planned for the day; one of the skits that has become a mainstay is Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First?” The teacher’s lounge is converted into a World War II era canteen complete with memorabilia as well as music from the 1940s. A special lunch is provided by the PTA.
Guests for World War II Day range from veterans of the Pacific campaigns, the European theater, survivors of the German death camps, survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack, American prisoners of war held by both the Germans and Japanese, Bataan Death March survivors, as well as Japanese American citizens who survived American internment camps.