Earlier this month, the Class of 2017 Heely Scholars filled the atrium and hallways of the Noyes History Building as they presented an exhibit and poster session to the school community. Fifth Formers Sam Cabot, Sophia Cai, Kristina Daisak, Maia Johngren, Michael Knowles, Injil Muhammad, Panos Vandris, and Cathy Wu shared original research on World War II, specifically how Lawrenceville, the United States, and the world responded to the conflict.
Selected following an application process in the spring of their Fourth Form year, the Heely Scholars immerse themselves in historical research during the summer and their Fifth Form year. The exhibit represented the culmination of over a year and a half of both collaborative and independent work, which began with a two-week-long archival research seminar on campus in June 2016, continued with a term-long history elective, Advanced Research Seminar, in the fall, and was enriched by a Spring Break trip to London, England and Normandy, France. The Scholars also offered a preview of their exhibit at school meeting on March 30. Throughout these experiences, the Scholars were instructed and advised by History Master Anne Louise Smit.
The Scholars designed the exhibit with two distinct components. The first examined the impact of World War II on a broader scale and consisted of posters summarizing the research completed in Advanced Research Seminar, whose final product was a 30-page paper addressing a topic of each Scholar’s choice. Students investigated a wide variety of subjects, including the development and influence of propaganda in the United States, then-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s use of strategy to lead the country towards intervention, the relationship between art and politics in Nazi Germany, the role of women in the French Resistance, and the impact of the G.I. Bill and Marshall Plan on postwar American society. On their posters, the Scholars emphasized the main tenets of their papers’ arguments, incorporating visual materials and past historical scholarship.
The second component focused on Lawrenceville during wartime and gave the Scholars the chance to consider how to bring history to life in ways both clear and engaging for the public. In creating this section of the exhibit, the Scholars drew inspiration from the various museums they had visited over the previous year, including Morven Museum & Garden in Princeton and the Imperial War Museum in London.
Aiming to paint a comprehensive portrait of the School, the students profiled then-Head Master Allan V. Heely and his wife Pattie; studied perceptions of Japanese students in attendance at Lawrenceville; detailed how the administration implemented a “wartime program” encompassing academic curriculum, moral education, and physical training; and highlighted the experiences of Lawrenceville students while in prisoner-of-war camps and after returning home. The Scholars made extensive use of the Stephan Archives, specifically soldiers’ correspondence gathered by Pattie Heely, Board of Trustees records, faculty meeting minutes, and publications such as The Lawrence, The Lit, and The Olla Pod.
The centerpiece of the Lawrenceville-centric exhibit was a commemorative project honoring the 80 community members who lost their lives in World War II. These “gold star alumni” (so named after the gold stars on the flag of remembrance in the Edith Memorial Chapel) were identified by name, class year, and, if found in the yearbook, a photograph. The Scholars also delved into the stories of three such alumni, narrating their time at Lawrenceville as well as their military career using primary documents. Meeting the faces behind the stars gave student visitors an opportunity to reflect on the experiences of 18- and 19-year-old soldiers, many of whom were of the same age as current V Formers at Lawrenceville as they headed off to war.
At the time of writing, the exhibit remains on display in Noyes, visible to students of all Forms as they may be considering the immense ramifications of World War II in their history classes.
For additional information on all Lawrenceville School news, please contact Lisa M. Gillard Hanson, director of Public Relations, at email@example.com.