Bringing their study of the first global conflict to life, students at East Islip Middle School underwent an authentic World War I experience in the school’s annual Boot Camp on March 2. Students were assigned to "platoons" that competed against each other throughout the day in physical and academic challenges, military deportment and teamwork.
Boot Camp started out with roll call, a physical exam for balance and vision, and an authentic officer’s intelligence test. Training followed, from life in the trenches and a French lesson to marching and agility drills, a minefield course and bayonet training at the school’s tennis courts. For many, the highlight of the day was the raucous parade drill and climactic tug-of-war competition held at Boomer Esiason Stadium. Boot Camp closed with the “troops” competing in renditions of George M. Cohan’s classic 1917 soldier’s song "Over There."
“We have been running Boot Camp for about 10 years,” said teacher and Boot Camp facilitator Valerie Tator. “The event began with my teaching partner at the time, Carol Honig. We worked together to create interdisciplinary learning scenarios for our common English and social studies students. World War I seems remote to our students, but it had a major impact on the historic events that follow, from the Roaring Twenties to World War II, so in order to make it more tangible, we started Boot Camp.”