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EIGHTH GRADE ESSAY CONTEST WINNER:

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Robert Yampanis, Norwell Middle School, Norwell, MA

When Darkness Threatened

On D-Day the Allied forces planned for unconditional victory, and prepared as if success was the only option. The soldiers were able to endure horrible conditions and the loss of their comrades to keep pushing forward, despite the odds. They knew there was no other chance. We are forever grateful that they were able to take the beaches, gain a foothold on mainland Europe, and ultimately defeat the Axis. While I have never done anything that brave, I took on a similar mindset when I was on a canoeing trip this summer.

Storm clouds were gathering quickly above the wilderness lake in Maine and I was in one of five canoes. We were headed many miles away to camp for the night and unfortunately the sun was already low in the sky. We had the wind on our back and we made good speed, but at our current rate, we would not make it to land before dark and before the rain. I could have been dreading spending a rainy night sleeping in a canoe, but instead I stayed positive and pictured myself sleeping in a dry sleeping bag under a tent. I did not even consider that we would fail and instead focused on rowing the canoe. At one point, my friend gave up rowing, and slouched down in his canoe. "We're never going to make it" he said. I assured him that we would make it to land, and told him we would not fail, even though looking back on it now, it seemed we would.

My positive outlook on our predicament helped my friend to push on beyond his limits. I focused on the speck in the distance that was our destination, and would not allow myself to think negatively. The speck continued to grow larger, but we were exhausted, had blisters, and dark was falling. Many may have given up in our situation. We chose to focus on success and, because we did not let the negative thoughts in, we were able to think more clearly. We came up with the idea of taking a rain tarp and lifting it up on oars to create a massive sail. We tied our boats together and lifted up our sail in front. The wind made us take off like a rocket and we flew across the water. It was more successful than we imagined.

We arrived at the camp site with enough light remaining to set up camp. I was immensely proud of my group, due to the fact that we had maintained a positive outlook. Instead of panicking, we were sure we would succeed and somehow get the entire way across the water. That trip was both thrilling and confidence building for me. My group had learned to work together and to keep our minds focused on our goal while darkness fell. The soldiers of D-Day also planned for success and together changed human history when the darkness of Hitler’s power threatened the world.

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EDUCATION PROJECTS:

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Student Travel – WWII Educational Tours
High school and college students, learn the leadership principles that helped win WWII on a trip to France or during a weeklong residential program in New Orleans. College credit is available, and space is limited.

See You Next Year! HS Yearbooks from WWII
Collected from across the United States, the words and pictures of these yearbooks present a new opportunity to experience the many challenges, setbacks and triumphs of the war through the eyes of America’s youth.

The Victory Gardens of WWII
Visit the Classroom Victory Garden Project website to learn about food production during WWII, find lesson plans and activities for elementary students, get tips for starting your own garden and try out simple Victory Garden recipes!

The Science and Technology of WWII
Visit our new interactive website to learn about wartime technical and scientific advances that forever changed our world. Incorporates STEM principles to use in the classroom.

Kids Corner: Fun and Games!
Make your own propaganda posters, test your memory, solve puzzles and more! Learn about World War II and have fun at the same time.

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