CHS students learn history with hard work in museum project

Clovis High School juniors Adam Carter, 16, center, and Kyle Johnson, 17, measure the ceiling for their advanced placement class project exhibit on Monday. CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth.

By Ryan Lengerich

Clovis High School junior Gabriel Bryant backed his Ford F-150 pickup up to the school library front doors Monday afternoon with 1,000 pounds of bagged sand in the truck bed.

The sand was being used to create the bunker effect a soldier experienced at the start of the Persian Gulf war.
Bryant, grouped with three classmates, used the war as their topic for a junior advanced placement English/government class museum project.

In all, eight projects will be on display for the public from 8 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. today through Saturday at the CHS library.
“We put in a lot of time over spring break, about five hours a day,” Bryant said. “The big deal is not putting everything off until the last minute.”

AP English teacher Renie Smith said topics were chosen by the students who were then required to do literary analysis, research, professional interviews and design an exhibit.
“This is the most intensive project that a student could do at Clovis High School,” Smith said.

The project, now in its third year, was assigned during the first week of school and will be graded by three high school teachers and community members chosen by Smith.

Adam Carter and Kyle Johnson are part of a group studying the “Munich Massacre” of 1972, when eight Arab terrorists killed two Israelis and took nine others hostage at the Olympic games. The students exhibit features 10-foot high ceilings, a replica of the room where the hostages were kept and a terrorist dummy perched on a balcony.

“I didn’t even know anything even happened in 1972,” Carter said. “Now I know so much about it.”

Teachers required students to keep a budget and limit project spending to $175. Johnson, whose family owns a Clovis lumber company, had wood scraps and old paneling donated to the group. Bryant said local companies donated money and a local hardware store reduced prices for exhibit material.

Bryant, who plans to study medicine in college, said the project has been the most stressful school assignment.
“You just have to go day by day. The teachers have been helpful about setting deadlines,” Bryant said. “You really have to choose your team well because your group will have conflicts.”

Natasha Mongar and her group often stayed awake until 5 a.m. constructing the exhibit with eight-foot-high hallway walls lined with fabric supported by plastic pipe. Their project about the CIA features a wall commemorating agents who have died.

Despite the hard work, Mongar said she would take the class again.

“It is so much different than any other class,” Mongar said. “You think it is going to be so easy, then you start to build and think, ‘I didn’t know it would take this long.’”

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History in the making
What: AP English III/AP Government Museum Project exhibits
Time: 8 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., today through Saturday
Where: Clovis High School Library