By Misty DUPLESSIS
On Wednesday, Nov. 7, Valley View Elementary School fourth grade students gathered for a one of kind Patriot Day lesson.
After fourth grader Asante Guzik and her classmates learned what service personnel did for America after 9/11, Asante got the idea to have her great grandfather, former Marine Calvin Cooper Shepherd, talk to her class about his experience in the service. Shepherd is a member of the Moniford Point Marines and was recently honored with the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal. The Marine Corps and Congress honored Shepherd and some of the men he served with because they inspired social change in the Marine Corps by being some of the first black Marines.
As a member of the VFW and the Marine Corps League, Shepherd was the perfect candidate to share in the lesson of patriotism, however having him make the visit from Detroit for this lesson was difficult, so Asante recommended that her classmate contact him through Skype.
Asante and her family often speak with Shepherd through the Internet webcam, but this method of communicating was new for many students as well as some of the teachers.
Asante’s mother Nicci Amberg was helpful in organizing the lesson and was thrilled that the class could hear some of the stories that she did not get to hear growing up. Amberg was also pleased that the students were able to utilize the computers that were recently purchased through the school’s Education Foundation.
Before the presentation began, students had the chance to write down questions to ask the former Marine. They learned about the kinds of jobs the former sergeant held during his time of service as well as some of his most challenging encounters and his fondest memories.
Shepherd shared photos of his youth and showed the bronze replica of the Congressional Medal that he received earlier this year. Students learned that Shepherd donated his uniform to be permanently displayed in a new Virginia museum.
The lesson served as a social studies class, a veteran appreciation day as well as a history lesson that the students won’t soon forget.