• For Teachers & Students
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Ethan Yan, The Nueva School, Hillsborough, CA

Planning to Succeed

Conceiving a brilliant plan for success is extremely difficult; there are always unknown factors that cannot be planned for. Formulating a strategy for the future requires meticulous planning, careful calculations, and intelligent leaders. Just as the brave, courageous, and persistent soldiers succeeded in the D-Day attack when a cloak of unknowns was enshrouded over them, I was triumphant in my first solo performance in an opera, with countless possibilities for mistakes. How do we plan to achieve success while facing the unknown?

Operation Overlord consisted of many components. Hard working soldiers performed numerous drills. Paratroopers had intense training, being the spearhead of the operation. It was a gargantuan team project carried out with Canada and the United Kingdom. General Eisenhower consulted high-ranking officers from all three countries. They used the best technologies available, including tide-predicting machines and Captain James Stagg’s weather prediction in determining the date, June 6, for the Normandy attack. A deception campaign was used to persuade the Fu ̈hrer of an invasion from Dover to Calais. Although thorough analyses and planning were done, uncertainties remained, such as the strength of the Nazi defense, the weather conditions, and the effectiveness of the deception. The invasion was a long shot, but Eisenhower’s persistence and determination paid off.

Recently, I had my opera solo debut in Amahl and the Night Visitors, composed by Menotti, with the Monterey Symphony in California. I had sung in a boys chorus before and appeared in two professional operas but had never sung as a soloist. We rehearsed daily, for a fortnight. I underwent a variety of trainings such as script reading, acting, and staging rehearsals, just as the troops did to prepare for D-Day. Teamwork was also a large part in ensuring a successful production. The denizens of our group had to trust, learn, encourage, and communicate with each other. I received help from the maestro, the concertmaster, the stage director, and others, who were experts in their respective fields. This was similar to Eisenhower, because he had discussions with others who knew the capabilities of the troops well. Principal characters were double cast, in case a performer was unavailable. I took advantage of different technologies: for example, I used Skype to rehearse with the maestro while he was in Europe, and regularly reviewed recordings of my voice lessons. Technologies were also used in D-Day to assist the planners too. However, many uncertainties remained, just as it was for Operation Overlord. Performers, including myself, could accidentally slip up; the props might malfunction. In a free concert to over one thousand local students, their cheers and applause were so overwhelming that I momentarily lost the orchestra as I was dancing like a spinning top on stage. Despite all the possibilities for failure, I was persistent and we succeeded, receiving excellent reviews.

When we are preparing for an important military operation, musical performance, sports game, or examination, we often face uncertainties. With determination, persistence, teamwork, the aid of technologies, contingency planning, and frequent practice, we will succeed.

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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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