LOPEZ ISLAND, Wash. – Students from tiny Lopez Island Middle/High School are teaming up with French counterparts to develop a history app.
The app The Monuments Project focuses on 29 service members from Washington state who died in World War I and are buried at Suresnes American Cemetery.
“They couldn’t afford to ship, to bring the soldiers back to bury them,” explained high school junior Nora Zapalac.
A teacher at the American School of Paris, Tom Neville, discovered last year’s app and came to the pair with an idea.
The students from Lopez and Paris are now collaborating to tell the untold stories of fallen service members. They are working with the American Battle Monuments Commission, a small government agency that operates military cemeteries inside and outside the United States. Students are also cross-referencing archives online.
“In this class, the books, they are getting dusty,” said Rovente. “The traditional teaching model is students do a whole lot of busy work that amounts to a letter grade. The model we’re using by building a mobile app, that’s a living technological document.”
Fry believes history buffs will use the app once the students compile the service member’s stories.
“Each one of these map pins represents where one of these service members is laid to rest,” explained Fry in a demo.
Students like junior Anne Scholz said working on the project makes her feel more connected to history.
“I feel like I can learn so much more about one individual, what people had to go through,” she said. “And I feel like that’s not written in textbooks that we get in school.”
The students are working to have the app complete with stories by Memorial Day.