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Larned High's students learn from U.S. soldiers

POSTED September 15, 2011 10:09 p.m.
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LARNED — In their recent study of Ernest Hemingway’s novel, “A Farewell to Arms,” Janet Fleske’s Larned High School senior English students had the opportunity to interview Vietnam veterans, Dale Brownlee and Ed Crosby, and Jeremy Dutton, who is currently serving in the Reserves as a lieutenant in the Marine Corps.
Brownlee served in the Air Force and flew helicopters in support of the troops on the ground in Vietnam. Crosby served on the ground in the Marine Corps. Officer Dutton serves in the general intelligence field and will soon be deployed to South America to gather intelligence in narcotic and human trafficking. 
Larned High senior Denton Johnson learned through Officer Dutton’s interview that the Marines, and the military in general, have so much to offer in the way of jobs and learned skills to those who are willing to pursue them. 
“Most people think ‘boots on the ground and gunfire’ when they think military,” Dutton said. “But there are so many areas that a person can be trained in.” 
Students have e-mailed veterans of the Gulf Wars, as well as men and women who are currently serving in the military either in Afghanistan or Iraq. 
Common themes of the futility of the war at times, the coping mechanisms used during their service, and the close relationships soldiers form while away from family and friends played out in the interviews, e-mails, and the novel as well.
Larned High seniors Brandi Martinez and Kaitlyn Browning felt the frustration of Crosby and Brownlee when the Vietnam War ended when the President ordered to stop the bombing. 
“It was a war we couldn’t win,” lamented Crosby. 
Larned senior Jeret Johnson was impacted by Brownlee’s frustration when he returned to the states from people who complained over trivial issues. 
Crosby and Brownlee shared the heartache and helplessness they felt when seeing their “brothers” killed in battle. 
Students have set up a Facebook page, “LHS Farewell to Arms Project,” and a blog, “A Farewell to Arms Reflections,” where they have been discussing the novel in conjunction with the personal interviews and e-mail messages. 
The blog can be found on Mrs. Fleske’s web page at the USD 495 district website. 
To complete their study of Hemingway’s novel, students will produce a technical project and write a formal paper of literary analysis. 
Apart from their class requirements, the students also plan to begin a project to collect items for care packages to send to our troops overseas. If you would like to support our troops in this way, contact Janet Fleske at Larned High School, 620-285-2151, or e-mail jfleske@yahoo.com.

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