Venice Middle School 'Young Marines' tour Patriot Plaza

Venice Middle School 'Young Marines' tour Patriot Plaza

Posted on December 29, 2014 by Cindy Balistreri

In November, Patriot Plaza guides gave many tours -- from church groups and clubs to neighborhood groups and condo associations. And, on Dec. 17, they provided a very special tour for a patriotic group of Venice Middle School students.

More than 88 Young Marines in grades 6-8 dressed in fatigues (their school uniform) arrived at Patriot Plaza accompanied by seven teachers to learn about the amphitheater's symbolism and stories honoring veterans. The Young Marines program is a "school within a school" at Venice Middle. This means that their classrooms are on the Venice Middle School campus, but they have their classes only with each other for Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, and Math. The students in the Young Marines program mingle with other VMS students for PE, Art, Music, and other electives.

The teachers prepared them for the Patriot Plaza tour using the EdExploreSRQ lesson plan materials and PowerPoint presentations designed by teachers over the summer. The Guides shepherded the students in four separate groups -- moving smoothly among seven locations over the course of 70 minutes. Following the tour, the Major (the primary military curriculum teacher) of the Young Marines held an awards ceremony, and presented various cadets with honors they had earned during the current school quarter. They specifically wanted to recognize the students while at Patriot Plaza -- it was impressive!  The students received chevrons and bars for their uniforms.

Then the students were given 20 minutes to walk throughout Patriot Plaza on their own and view the artwork. This quiet reflection is particularly important for the commissioned work "Testimonies" and "Witness to Mission" -- both by lead artist Larry Kirkland. It is impossible to view all of these on any single tour with a Guide. It takes quiet introspection to really appreciate what the art means.

After this, the students and teachers walked across the street to view the headstone of a student's grandfather who was buried a few weeks ago. Several of these wonderful students learning about Patriot Plaza also donated their time in early December during the Wreaths Across America event at Sarasota National Cemetery.

All in all, it was a great experience -- the Guides were impressed with the students, and the Young Marines and their teachers were impressed with Patriot Plaza and our Guides.


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