Six FHS students designed three projects to address this year’s theme, “Taking A Stand in History”. Kamie Lee, Adrianna Jones, James Carney, and Jonathan Morris located a WWII Veteran, James C. Baynham, a pilot who flew the B-24 Liberator for the Army Air Corp. Baynham flew bomber missions out of England bombing Germany. In 1944, Baynham’s plane was shot down over Germany and he became a prisoner of war until the war ended.
The students asked Mr. Baynham questions, through a series of emails, about technological innovations for the war effort. They said that Mr. Baynham supplied valuable information that gave an in-depth look from his personal experiences. The students created an exhibit of WWII pictures on rotating cubes gathered from Baynham and other resources. One question the students sent Mr. Baynham was, “How did Radar function and what did it look like? Mr. Baynham responded, “We had radio waves or something like them. In England, three towers sent out radio signals. Our lead ships had special receivers that showed these signals on a screen. The meeting point of these signals gave us a location to find where we were at that moment. By 1946, Radar was developed and airports had a small shack with a man inside that would talk you down when you reached the end of the runway. That was a long way from the sophisticated radar applications we enjoy now."
Another question from the students began, “If we had different technology back then, could things have turned out differently?” Baynham answered, “There were many searches going on for magic bullets that would win the war. Of course, the primary one was the atom bomb. We developed it first, and because President Truman decided to use it, the war against Japan ended. Germany was also trying to develop it. Had they been successful, in all likelihood we would have lost the war.” He added, “Smart new heroes, possibly even from among your own schoolmates, will change the world in new discoveries in health, wealth or warfare. That is one great thing about all of us who are lucky enough to have teachers that challenge our minds, we are dared to get excited about learning. Who knows where the next question’s answer might take us! Good luck and my best to all of you at Ford.”
Emily Bermudez-Ruiz’s project was an essay about Malcom X, who was an iconic figure who stood up for the injustice of African Americans. Emily’s passion for social justice is present within her well researched, contestant worthy essay.
Laighla Gassner created an exhibit of the National Women’s Conference of 1977. “I chose this topic because women’s rights are prevalent in today’s society and this conference changed the lives of many women. This conference was important because it was the first and only women’s rights conference sponsored by the federal government. There were also many advocates and supporters of women’s rights.” She described this project as illuminating and fun!
Letters to Mr. Baynham from the students:
Dear Mr. Baynham,
You helped us a great deal with this project. I enjoyed reading your emails and learning about WWII from a different point of view. You being in the war and giving us info on the B-24 gave us an edge on getting to state. The judges were very intrigued by us interviewing someone who was in the war. Thank you so much for helping us. ~ Jonathan Morris
Dear Mr. Baynham,
Thank you so much for helping with our project. I am so happy you allowed us to interview you over email. You were a big help and did clear some things up while we were working on our project. You really helped us to learn more about the B-24s and B-29's. It also gave us an idea to put it on a side as new technology. Having a primary source was a big help because that is someone that was actually there and witnessed the war. ~ Kamie Lee
Mr. James Baynham,
You have an interesting life that I would be honored to hear more about. You contributed to my group exhibit for the national history day event by telling us about your experiences, ranks, and the hard work and dedication the military took at that point. You helped us to visualize the reality of the time period, how much those had forgotten and those lives lost had been unrecognized as well. You opened my eyes to the fact of how close we were to losing the power we had. As well as the things that could be different or changed due to our loss of power. I, in fact, enjoyed reading about your life, things that I had thought they were, were slightly different but played an important part in our success as a country. With this competition, I have learned many things altogether. It was an honor to get as far as state, we could never have accomplished this much without the help of Mr. Baynham. ~ Adrianna Jones
Dear Mr. Baynham,
I appreciate your service in the big war. I thank you for helping us by providing information about your life and what was around then. I thank you for the communication you had with us. You helped us with almost everything we had, and we even made a cool little biography about it.
Have a good life! ~ James Carney