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Manson Student and Teacher Selected for 'Sacrifice for Freedom' World War II Program

Feb 28, 2019

DES MOINES – A Manson Northwest Webster High School student and teacher have been selected by a national history program to study and honor a World War II hero at the National Memorial Cemetery in Hawaii.

The National History Day organization selected Matthew Helmers and his teacher Jenny Westerhoff for the "Sacrifice for Freedom: World War II in the Pacific Student & Teacher Institute," a student-teacher cooperative learning program.

"Having Matthew and Jenny selected to participate in this program is a great honor and it's very exciting for our National History Day in Iowa program," said Vania Boland, the state coordinator for National History Day in Iowa. "Our students spend countless hours with research materials from the State Historical Society of Iowa and other resources for their projects, which can lead to wonderful opportunities like this one. We encourage all Iowans to join us in congratulating Matthew and Jenny for receiving this tremendous honor."

The program brings together six student-teacher teams from the U.S. mainland with six teams from Hawaii to study World War II in the Pacific. During spring 2019, students and teachers engage in readings, participate in online discussions and research a Silent Hero who never returned home and is buried or memorialized at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.

In July, the teams will meet in Hawaii where they will walk in the footsteps of history, engaging in on-site learning at the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites and across the island of Oahu. Travel and program expenses are provided for all participants by the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites Partners.

At the culmination of the program, the students will develop Silent Hero profiles to be published online during the 2019-2020 academic year at

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

The National History Day in Iowa program is coordinated by the State Historical Society of Iowa, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. More information is available at or 515-281-5111.

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.