Middle school students create float for Pearl Harbor vets
Carson Valley Middle School students are helping a group of Pearl Harbor survivors ride in style in the Nevada Day parade today.
Elaine Toth, an English, drama and art teacher at CVMS, encouraged her students to get involved in a community service project that will benefit the Pearl Harbor Survivors’ group of the Carson Valley and Carson City.
Her father, Bill Roney, was in the Navy and stationed at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
“I wanted to do this as a gift to my father,” Toth said.
She told students about her idea to build a float for the Pearl Harbor survivors, so they won’t have to walk. She said she got an enthusiastic response from the students and they began building a float on a flatbed trailer donated by United Rents.
The students created a wooden railing around the trailer and attached red, white and blue bunting. Students made signs with the veterans’ names and the theme of their float, “The Tigers of Carson Valley join Nevada pioneers of freedom.”
Toth said she tried to give her students some exposure to the history of Pearl Harbor.
“They have been reading testimony from Pearl Harbor survivors, so it’s not just putting together a float,” Toth said.
The students said they enjoyed the activity, learning about the history and also the community service aspect.
“I want to do something for the community and show the world what 13-year-olds can do. We’re not only kids who go around spray-painting,” said Sergio Delgadillo, an 8th grader.
Apparently, they are showing these veterans a thing or two about teen-agers. Some of the veterans said they didn’t expect middle school students to help them.
“I was surprised,” said Richard Budd, who was on the USS California when Pearl Harbor was bombed by Japanese planes. He was in the Navy for 21 years. “Most of the people that young of an age don’t know about Pearl Harbor. It’s not taught. I don’t know why, but it’s not in the history books. Three thousand people were killed. It was a horrible thing to see when I was 20 years old.”
Bill Roney said he was excited to hear that his daughter’s students are helping out the survivors.
“I think that’s a wonderful thing,” said Roney, who was in the Navy for more than six years and now lives in Gardnerville. “These young people should know all they can about Pearl Harbor. The more the young people understand what all the men sacrificed, the more they will appreciate it.”
Roney was standing watch at the Navy Air Station and saw the first wave of Japanese planes come in from the aircraft carriers.
Dan Bowman was a 20-year-old Marine with the Third Defense Battalion when he was stationed at Pearl Harbor in April 1940. He was on active duty for 28 years.
“It is very important for (young people) to learn what is in the past. I would give up my seat (on the float) to have them with us. Kids are very important,” Bowman said.
Carsen Hadley, 13, and Josh Robinson, 14, both 8th graders, said they had already been learning about Pearl Harbor.
“I am learning about Pearl Harbor as part of a report I am doing,” Josh said. “I learned the USS Nevada was one of the ships that survived the attack. Mrs. Toth told us one of the people who will be on the float saw the eyes of a Japanese pilot as he flew over him.”
“I wanted to help out the people so they can ride in the float,” said Carsen, who visited the Pearl Harbor memorial two years ago.
“I thought it would be fun to help out,” said Kylie Koerner, 14, a 9th grader. “They’ll be able to ride instead of walk and it is a good thing to do for the community.”
“I think it’s a valuable parade, to show everyone a little bit about our past and Pearl Harbor,” said Bryan Brady, 13, an 8th grader.