by Jonathan Vaughn
For more than a year, our world has grappled with a global pandemic that resulted in immediate, direct, and substantial impacts on students across our nation and world. Many of these impacts were negative despite the absolute heroic efforts of educators and parents to keep students learning and engaged in a constantly changing learning environment. Last summer saw, for the first time since its inception, VAMPY being canceled out of safety concerns and protocols. That is why it is so great for our students, teachers, and teaching assistants alike to be back at VAMPY this summer.
We are back with a new enthusiasm on the part of students, teachers, staff, and members of The Center for Gifted Studies. It is great to see students and teachers being able to work together once more in a way that was impossible for so long. When the pandemic shut down schools, many students were forced to retreat into their homes and go without the social and educational benefits that come with being with other people on a regular basis. With the pandemic subsiding in much of the U.S., VAMPY students are back to smiling more, sharing more of their lives and experiences, and reopening themselves to the world around them while learning and growing.
We have had a great beginning in the Nazi Germany and the Holocaust class. Our students started the class strong by introducing themselves to each other and to the class on Monday and have been hard at work developing their understanding of the foundations of both World Wars and the rise of the Nazi regime, as well as the roots and effects of hatred within society. Our students have shown an impressive curiosity for these major historical periods and a remarkable maturity in their approach to learning about these deep and dark subjects, which many say capture the darkest period in world history. Their understanding is being built through readings, class discussion, some lecture, time to research in the computer lab, and various videos and video clips to enhance the learning experience.
Each year, our students participate in three major projects: a mock trial of Adolf Hitler with both a prosecution and a defense team, a six-foot by nine-foot mural that will join the impressive murals from past years, and a performance of a play about Anne Frank that seeks to inspire hope despite the most awful of circumstances. On Wednesday, our students began deciding which of these three class projects they would primarily be responsible for and work on over the next three weeks. This time will pass quickly, and we are excited as never before to see the finished products.
As the instructors of the class, Mr. Skillern and I are both enjoying a purity of learning in which teachers and students alike resume normalcy — a normalcy that is the magic of VAMPY!