APUSH classes display a WWII museum of “living history”

The American experience during the Second World War was brought to West Linn High School on June 5 as a production from three Advanced Placement United States History classes.  The “Living History” WWII museum was a final project for nearly 90 APUSH students and attracted many people, most of which were parents and other adults.

The event, which lasted from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and was stationed in the New and Old Commons, was advertised for over a week prior to its occurrence.  Matt Gottschling, history teacher, encouraged students to reach out to those who are taking APUSH next year and to “take charge on this project.”

Most exhibits had to be operated by students, who were given over a week to prepare their projects.  Exhibits at the museum included informational posters on atomic bombs, the Holocaust, food of the 1940’s, military advancements in Europe and the role of women during the war.  A few exhibits were free-standing and artful, such as stands holding art fashioned after the mood of the time, a “medical tent,” Disney videos from WWII and an exhibit showcasing music of the 1940’s.  Finally, many pieces were performanced-base and included a fashion show, a short musical named “Bonds,” a jazz band and Jeopardy.

“The skit was a great compliment to the fashion show and all the exhibits,” Rob Martinsen, father of sophomore Melanie Martinsen, said.  “I think [the museum] does a really good job and it comes at [showcasing WWII] from a very different direction from any other World War II museum I’ve ever been to.”

The 15-minute play was written by Elizabeth Anderson, sophomore, and its songs were composed by Sophia Pesetti, sophomore.  The performance involved several members who weren’t APUSH students but rather friends of project leaders.

“We practiced every day after school ‘til about five,” Taylor Bosson, freshman, said.  “It showed me that APUSH projects can be fun.”

Pessetti, on the other hand, spent a weekend writing songs for the play.

“I worked pretty hard,” Pesetti said.  “Everybody on the project worked pretty hard on this. It was just a really big team effort.  I think that it makes U.S. history a bit more relatable, and people can see it in musical form to get a sense of what family life was like at this time.”

Gottschling said that the museum surpassed his students’ standards, yet met his, and he may elect to repeat a museum-based project for his APUSH students next year.

“I didn’t think it’d be this big,” Kaitlyn Berreth, junior, said.  “I didn’t know there’d be so many exhibits as many people, I guess.  It just came out better than I thought.”