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    Building Bridges into history with Mr. Smith

    Social Studies teacher Justin Smith is creating a history project to connect students with their community. He wants to create something to enhance curiosity about history and create more respect for the city.
    The way it’ll help connect the city and community is through learning more and recognizing the history.
    “It’ll be neat to have more of a connection… ‘oh I know that monument’,” Smith said.
    People will be able to interact with the information physically and audibly. By using a QR code which will play a voice over explaining the history of the plaques or monuments, and other important parts in Des Moines such as the creation of the interstate and the start of ‘RAYGUN’ t-shirts.
    Many students don’t learn about parts of history, or they learn more about America rather than the history of the town they live in. This project is meant to bridge this gap of knowledge and find a connection that lets the youth want to keep living in Des Moines and take pride in where they are.
    The inspiration for this project was from a class Smith was taking where he had to plan out this exact project, which was something he had a lot of passion for creating he just had to take the final jump and get a grant for putting the project in motion.
    “There was a five hundred dollar grant…printing out signs and things like that, I imagine that it’s going to go pretty fast,” Smith said
    Smith’s plan is to begin the creation shortly, letting it to attract students and alumni. For anything he cannot do himself, Smith plans for student and staff assistance, this can be things such as artwork and photography.
    Things that you can see the history of will be things like monuments, locations with some historical significance behind them, and more.
    It will be available to anyone at the school, and people can plan to see the first motions of the project begin at the end of the 2023-2024 school year and its usage is planned for the beginning of the 2024-2025 school year.


    “I have been working for East since 2003 and I have ‘adopted’ East as my high school since DM Technical High School closed and I don’t have one to ‘go back to’ for homecoming. I feel history is important so we can remember who came before us and remember what the ideals were of the people who gave us our current community and how we can honor traditions,” teacher Michelle Ritchie said.

    “I am a fourth generation East High grad. My child graduated in 2020, which makes her fifth generation. My great grandpa who attended the original East helped on ‘moving day’ with principal Mae Goodrell,” teacher Jenifier Medina said.

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