The end of another school year is a bittersweet process. This is our final Sophomores Speak Out. We are reflecting on our history class, and what we will take with us on our journey as students and as people. Students start summer jobs, study for finals and get ready for the long wait of summer vacation. This time of year gets crazy with mixed emotions. First of all, after two years in high school, I can’t believe how fast the time goes by! I was told this as a freshman, but you don’t really believe it. Halfway through my high school career, I realize it is true. Second, we all look forward to summer vacation. We are ready for a change, from school and sometimes each other. Ironically, by August, we are often ready to go back and begin a new year. There is nothing that feels as good as a fresh start. I have enjoyed my sophomore year, and this class. I thank our advisor Elaine Weintraub and the Vineyard Gazette for this opportunity.

— Kristen Parece, Editor

Conversation With Hitler

By Rebecca Barbosa>

If history is true, then there are things to prove it. Dates don’t work for me at all in studying history, but every story from the past is history. Studying history did not help me to understand myself in any way, but I would have many, many questions for Hitler if he were still alive. I would ask him why he did the things he did to people, and ask him what he was thinking. I would ask him if his conscience ever told him that what he was doing was wrong. I would ask him if he thought his reasons were psychological, and if someone who was Jewish or homosexual had ever done something to him that made him very mad with them. I have so many questions, but they will never be answered.

What I Learned Along the Way

By Alicia Oliveira>

This year I learned about the African American Heritage Trail of Martha’s Vineyard. It’s important to talk about that because it’s not something we learn too much about. Native American history is more likely to be a lesson, but this year we went on the Heritage Trail and saw all the sites on the Island and met some pretty important people along the way. Studying history does help me to understand human nature because all people relate to each other because we want to survive. It’s a natural instinct. The box we made about our own family history this year was great because I really got to talk about it with my family and to understand myself a little better. If I could, I would love to talk to Martin Luther King. His willpower was insane. I would like to ask him how he got that strong.

We Lived History With President Obama

By Camilla Fernandez>

I think the most important thing we learned this year came through the election of Barack Obama. I really liked that even though we were in a history class and were supposed to be learning about things that had happened in the past, we were learning about current events that were making history, and that one day, we would be history. I really liked that our class was getting so involved and enthusiastic about the election. I had never seen that before. It’s not only important to learn about the past, but it’s good to know the world you are living in. The election was a very big deal and one day we will be able to tell our children that we were growing up when the first African American president was elected, and not only that but our whole class wrote to him and we were interviewed about our opinions about politics on MVTV.

The Face of History

By Alex JernegAn>

My favorite part of this year in Global Studies was watching the movie The Pianist. It really opened up my eyes to the sheer cruelty of people during the Holocaust. I will always remember Dr. Vanderpol’s face when he came in to talk to us about his experiences. I will remember him because to me he is the one true face of the Holocaust and I will always regard him with respect beyond respect because of what he went through. Where a person grows up, whom they grow up with, whoever their mentor is and when people grow up has an extremely large affect on their lives. It could even define a person as who they are. I realized that I have a bad memory, but I also realize that memorizing people, dates and events is not what history is all about. It’s about learning from history’s mistakes and deciding not to repeat them. That’s what history is about.

The Stories We Remember

By Anna Sylvia>

Each guest speaker who came to talk to our class this year has provided us with knowledge we will carry with us for the rest of our lives. One very special man whom I will never forget is Mev Good. He spoke to us from his heart showing great emotion as he taught us about World War II and his life experiences. I have learned that there is no greater teacher than an elder who can sit among us and relive the days of history in our presence. He told our class that “history is knowledge and knowledge is power” and these words will stick with me forever. With a knowledge of history, we can learn from the mistakes of those before us and move forward with the power to see more clearly and be more open-minded as individuals.

There Are Always Questions

By Diane Reed>

Nobody really knows why people do what they do or why Hitler did what he did. That’s the biggest thing for me, and others, to try to understand. I think it’s important to learn history and try to understand because you don’t want to repeat it, particularly if it was a bad time. People always wonder and there are always questions. For example, I blame Bush for sending out our American troops to Iraq because we would never have had to go there if he wasn’t power hungry and if he had told the truth. If it wasn’t for Bush, do you think our American troops would be risking their lives so that we can live in somewhat of a little peace? That’s what I mean, there are always questions and people are always wondering.

Monotonous History

By T.J. Van Gervan>

At times its hard to connect with the history of something when you can’t relate to it and it seems meaningless to you. Examples include watching a boring documentary where the narrator’s voice is just a dull, monotone sound and you can’t understand what he is saying because you can’t relate. I think that in order to actually enjoy history and understand it, instead of memorizing facts, you need actually to find hands-on ways to relate and understand history. Stories that I consider to be history are the ones that are about important events that actually occurred. For example, the story of Rasputin helps me to understand the way things were in Russia and around the rest of the world at that time. We don’t actually know if Rasputin had some kind of magical powers, but his story shows how superstitious the world was  at that time. It also helps to explain how the Russian Revolution started.

History Can Be Dry or Terrifying

By Oliviai Cameron

Most of my life I thought history was a fairly dry topic. I did enjoy learning about the history of China, Greece and Egypt a long time ago because I thought it was interesting to think how they lived. But otherwise history was drilled into me year after year with similar facts that didn’t really stick and left me with an aversion to the subject. I thought learning about the Holocaust this year was important because it shows you how far people will go and, hopefully, will make us try harder to prevent future horrors even though we aren’t doing the best job right now. I think it is important to understand how such horrors came about and how a whole country stepped back and allowed millions of people to be exterminated. I find the Holocaust extremely disturbing to learn about, but I also think it is fascinating to look at it from a psychological point, and the stories of the people who resisted are very uplifting.