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Actually, this week we have a current post highlighting the recent visits by City of York 5th graders to Eisenhower NHS:

POSTED: May 17, 2016

I don't know, but I've been told,
Army life is good as gold.
Three full meals, a nice warm tent.
Uncle Sam pays all the rent…

Twenty three 5th graders, most attired in Army overseas caps with one here and there sporting less military looking headwear –a fedora, a straw farmer's hat, a plaid golf cap - march and sing cadence across the President's front yard. They are marching to meet the Supreme Commander.

The students are from McKinley School in York, PA and most are visiting a national park and President's home and farm for the first time. Their visit to Eisenhower National Historic Site is made possible by a Ticket to Ride Grant The McKinley students are participating in the site's Molding of a Leader program. While touring the President's home and farm, they role play different periods in Eisenhower's life when he learned or exhibited good character. They don different Eisenhower hats and portray Ike as an Abilene High School student, West Point cadet, a captain in Gettysburg, supreme commander, president, farmer, and golfer.

To prepare students for the visit, teachers introduce them to Eisenhower in the classroom. They examine the traits that molded "Ike" into such an effective leader and learn to "Get On the Right TRRACC Like Ike," discussing what it means to be Trustworthy, Respectful, Responsible, Accountable, Caring, and a good Citizen.

During their two hour visit, students meet Ike the Abilene High School baseball player who talks about responsibility to family. The Park Ranger shares stories about how boyhood Ike sewed clothes and cooked meals for the family when he was in 5th grade. They hear of his epic grade school fight with Wesley Merryfield that led him to realize he was responsible for his own actions and shouldn't bow to peer pressure.

They soon meet Major Eisenhower who recalls his love and respect for his horse Blackie when stationed in Panama and how his training of Blackie saved the horse's life when becoming stuck in quicksand in the jungle. The Major's recollections of his horse lead to a discussion of how one must display a variety of character traits when properly caring for an animal.

Later, President Eisenhower and wife Mamie disembark from a helicopter on the farm helipad to applause from the Press Corps and the President proceeds to enumerate some of his greatest accomplishments. While Ike may run the country, it's Mamie who runs the house, and it's Mamie who escorts everyone on a tour of the home. The students are invited to explore every room in the house, from kitchen to den to bathrooms.

Farmer Ike leads the students down to Farm 2, the headquarters of the President's cattle operation. While gazing upon the herd of cows and new born claves, Farmer Ike speaks about his respect for the land and his animals.

In each encounter with a different Eisenhower, the students hear how Ike displayed good character and how he kept on TRRACC.

Upon meeting Supreme Commander Eisenhower, they hear how a reporter noticed tears in the General's eyes as he watched his paratroopers board their planes and fly off behind enemy lines the evening prior to the morning's D-Day invasion. He, of course, knew full well that many of these young men would never return.

After the Ranger sets the scene, the students reenact the landing at Omaha Beach, charging off the landing craft to hit the beach. The "landing" is all exhilaration and fun initially, but turns sobering afterwards when discussing the details of the assault and the casualties suffered. The students listen to the short speech Ike wrote just in case the invasion would have failed. In it, Ike praises the valor of his men and assumes total responsibility for the operation's failure. It was a speech he fortunately never had to deliver.

After two hours of exploring the President's entire home and farm and meeting a lifetime of Eisenhowers, the students agree that Ike was indeed a man of character and one worth emulating. Each is awarded an I Ike Like pin for their Academy award-winning performances and several Polaroids are taken of the class posing in their hats in front of the President's home.

The students are encouraged to come back and visit again with their families, and to visit other national parks as well. The Ticket to Ride grant provides an opportunity for ten City of York 5th grade classes as well as eight 8th grade classes to visit Eisenhower NHS. The grant was also generously supported by Dwight D. Eisenhower Society, the Gettysburg Foundation, and the LCBC Community Church of York, Pennsylvania.

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Last updated: May 29, 2016

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