It’s 1983 . . . imagine you are sitting in a meeting in the Command Center of a military aircraft carrier under the leadership of Joint Chief of Staff Chairman, General Vissey; or, perhaps you are a key Cabinet member sitting in the Oval Office eye to eye with President Reagan. In either case, amid conversation, you suddenly learn American lives may potentially be at stake. You have to act and your actions carry consequences—the decision is yours.
. . . How should America respond to this emergency, and why? “The Air Force One Discovery Center Field Trip at the Reagan Library is unlike any other educational field trip experience.” Students don’t just look at history within glass cases, they live it!
This year, Ronald Reagan SP sponsored a field trip for Mrs. Sharon Matus’ eighth grade students from Rancho Christian School in Temecula.
The students took a bus trip to Simi Valley where they received a docent lead tour of the Reagan Library, ate lunch in the Air Force One Pavilion, and entered another world as they engaged in a reenactment of an international crisis which occurred during Reagan’s term.
You would be proud of these students; they walked into this simulated crisis prepared. Prior to the field trip, FRRSP Board Member, Mrs. Susan Weaver, came to Rancho to teach: ‘The History of Capitalism in the Western World, The Difference Between Democracy and Communism, and The Consequences of Communism in Russia Under Lenin and Stalin.” Students read “Playing Monopoly with a Communist” on the FRRSP website, as well as the Cuban Missile Crisis, and experienced through a game, what it would have been like economically for owners of factories and farms during the Leninist takeover of Russia in 1917. (Click on the “Education” page of this website for these Teaching Scripts.)
Then students, under the direction of teacher Mrs. Sharon Matus, took a Writing Challenge: “Totalitarianism vs. Democracy - Communism vs. Capitalism.” This assignment was a highly creative four paragraph RAFT writing response, asking students to describe and reflect upon the events and principles they had learned.
By the day of the field trip, the students had a working knowledge of the historical and ideological differences between the United States and Russia in 1983. They were ready to make a confident decision, based on concrete experiential evidence.
For the Discovery Center reenactment, each student was assigned the name and position of a person who was actually a decision maker in a real life crisis faced in Reagan’s administration. Those in the reproduction Oval Office received breaking news, and advised the President directly on what they thought American response should be. Those in the mock Command Center received minute by minute field reports and advised the Joint Chief of Staff on their recommendations for specific military strategy. As the crisis unfolded, students had to discuss all options, articulate their decision in a vote, and then see if their decisions matched the real ones made in 1983. As on past field trips, the arguments were at times “lively and . . . impassioned” (http://www.myvalleynews.com).
This multi-faceted learning opportunity could not be possible without FRRSP, the cooperation of eager, ready to learn students, and an organized, enthusiastic teacher. It may also not be possible without the generous donations of community minded businesses and the concern of individual citizens. If you can help bring this program to more young people, we thank you for your donation here.
Rancho Christian students and staff will be representing FRRSP in this year’s Fourth of July Parade in Temecula. They will wear their Berlin Wall T-Shirts provided by FRRSP. The shirts have a colorful picture of a portion of the Wall (seen by the students at the Library) and the words: “’Mr.Gorbachev, tear down this wall!’ - President Ronald Reagan - June12, 1987.
Please remember, we need people who believe in this program to join us in financially sustaining it. In former President Ronald Reagan’s words:
“By informing and exercising young minds, by transmitting learning and values, you are the vital link between all that is most precious in our national heritage and our children and grandchildren, who will some day take up the burdens of guiding the greatest, freest society on earth.”
Ronald Reagan Library Field Trip