Seventh grade class helps with American Legion archive project

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Junior High science teacher Susie Flentie (right) assists students with GPS units. The students are mapping and describing veterans’ monuments around Lewistown.

Photo by Charlie Denison


American Legion Post Commander Don Bost is a resourceful man.

Stretched for time as he recruits more members to Lewistown’s continually growing post, he can use help whenever – and wherever – he can find it.

So when the American Legion reached out, asking him to record the veteran landmarks around Central Montana, he made a call, looking no further than Suzie Flentie’s seventh grade STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) classes.

“The Legion wanted me to do this, but I thought, ‘you know, why not get the young people involved?’” Bost said. “This is an archive book the American Legion wanted done nationally. Each community that has a post was asked to record everything in their community that has to do with veterans. I thought ‘why not get others involved in this?’”

Bost said this is a great opportunity for Flentie’s students, especially considering how many veteran-related memorials and monuments there are in Lewistown.

“We’ve got our airport that used to be a B-17 base, which is a big deal,” Bost said. “We’ve also got our cemetery with a World War I machine gun, an old veteran section, a new veteran section and a Medal of Honor recipient. And, of course, we’ve got Veterans Park, the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial, the artillery piece and missile at Symmes Park and the Norden bomb site and community honor roll plaque at the Central Montana Museum. It’s going to be a long process to develop this thing. There is a lot of good history here.”

Flentie’s seventh grade STEM classes are responsible for taking pictures, recording addresses and GPS locations and doing a write-up on each site. At Veterans Park on Thursday, students recorded the GPS locations for each and every statue, which took some time.

“This kind of thing takes longer than people realize,” Bost said, “and the class has agreed to help out and see it through. Suzie has made this a class project.”

 At the beginning of the day, before boarding the school bus for Veterans Park, Bost got the students excited, informing them of the project’s significance.

“This is an important book we are putting together here,” he said. “Your names and probably your pictures will even wind up in the Library of Congress. What you are doing is extremely important.”

Flentie said she’s glad her students have the opportunity to help the local Legion post with this project.

“This is a great application for GIS technology,” Flentie said, “and it’s great that they are also doing something for our community and our veterans, which is something the Lewistown Junior High School prioritizes. We want to recognize veterans and help our students realize their importance. Our students seem pretty into veterans, thanks to our Veterans Day assembly. They are very aware of the veterans and their contribution to society.”

One aspect of this project that excited Flentie is it educates her students on how many memorials and monuments there are around town.

“Most of us don’t know about all of them,” Flentie said. “I didn’t even know about all of them until we started this project.”

Bost said it’s undetermined how long it will take to complete this class project, but Flentie and her students are committed to seeing it through.

“They’re on board no matter how long it takes,” Bost said. “I appreciate that.”

The students also appreciate it, however, they seemed in agreement that this is not their favorite class project.

“Class has been a lot of fun,” one student said. “We’re building a robot. We aren’t quite sure what its purpose is. We need to figure out what it does.”



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