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State Historical Society of Iowa

Algona High School Student-Teacher Team to Study World War II in Hawaii

Jan 27, 2020

Isabelle Gibbs of Algona High School and her teacher, Brian Connick, are one of only 16 student-teacher teams in the United States to be selected for the second annual Sacrifice for Freedom®: World War II in the Pacific Student & Teacher Institute.

The institute brings together student-teacher teams from Hawaii, American Samoa and the U.S. mainland to study and reflect upon World War II. During the next six months, students and teachers will read books and selected materials, engage in online discussions, and research a Silent Hero®, a military service member who died in World War II and is buried or memorialized at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.

In June, the teams will meet in Oahu where they will walk in the footsteps of history and learn firsthand about the impact of World War II in the Pacific. Travel and program expenses are provided for all participants by National History Day and Pearl Harbor Historic Sites.

The experience will culminate with the completion and presentation of the teams’ Silent Hero eulogies and profiles, which will be featured on, as well as the websites of the sponsoring organizations. The National History Day program in Iowa is coordinated by the State Historical Society of Iowa, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.

"As the state agency that oversees the National History Day program in Iowa, we are extremely proud of Isabelle and Brian for their dedication and commitment to making sure the memories of our fallen heroes are remembered and shared forever," National History Day in Iowa coordinator Vania Boland said. "We encourage all Iowans to join us in congratulating Algona High School for this well-deserved honor."

“We are grateful to be working again with our friends and partners from the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites to offer this extraordinary opportunity,” National History Day Executive Director Cathy Gorn said. “The students and teachers selected for this year’s institute represent many different parts of the country. Through this invaluable academic experience, I hope participants gain a deep appreciation for those who served and sacrificed in the Pacific Theater of World War II, as well as a thorough understanding of the essential role Hawaii played in those operations.”

“This year, our nation will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II," said Shauna Tonkin, director of education and visitor experience at Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum. "It is vitally important to provide opportunities for teachers and students to study the history of the war in the authentic settings provided in Hawaii. The Pearl Harbor Historic Site partners are honored to be part of this unique program that creates personal connections to the past, and inspires teachers and students to keep the stories alive.”

Applications for the second annual Sacrifice for Freedom®: World War II in the Pacific Student & Teacher Institute were submitted by 129 teams from across the country. The 16 teams selected for the 2020 institute represent American Samoa, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

The program is coordinated through National History Day and is sponsored by Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum, the USS Missouri Memorial Association and Pacific Historic Parks.

More information about National History Day and the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs is available at

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and its three divisions – the Iowa Arts Council, Produce Iowa - State Office of Media Production and the State Historical Society of Iowa – empower Iowa to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting Iowans to the people, places and points of pride that define our state. The department’s work enables Iowa to be recognized as a state that fosters creativity and serves as a catalyst for innovation where the stories of Iowa are preserved and communicated to connect past, present and future generations.