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Teacher brings conflicts alive for her students
two girls
Ibon Rincon and Devon Link sample MRE food during an English class war unit. Link was the only student who actually liked all of the different things they sampled. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

Crystal Cross, Great Bend High School English teacher, wants to bring the war in Iraq and Afghanistan home to Great Bend. Not physically, of course, but mentally and emotionally for her students.
“The war in Iraq and Afghanistan is currently out of sight, out of mind,” Cross said. “We want to bring it to the forefront again in Great Bend.”                
She explained that all of her senior students have been reading “Ghosts of War,” a novel written by an 18-year-old who served in Iraq in 2003-2004.
“My AP classes are also reading ‘The Good Soldiers,’ a book that covers a group from Fort Riley that served in Iraq in 2007,” Cross said. “This book won a Pulitzer Prize for Journalism.”
In conjunction with the unit, the students have viewed a number of documentaries including “Alive Day,” “War Torn,” “The Pat Tillman Story” and “Taking Chances.”
Cross said all of her students are participating in three projects:  One to honor the dead, one to honor those serving and one to honor those who have returned with issues such as physical injuries or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
To honor the dead, the students are creating a memorial wall that will hang in the entry hallway at the high school for two to three weeks. The poster will contain names, states, ages, years and other pertinent information. A large banner will be included thanking the soldiers for their sacrifice.
To raise money for the other two phases of the projects, Cross said she has received permission to have a bike rally and walk at Veterans Park on May 14. There will be a participation fee, which will include a shirt.
“We are designing a red shirt that people can wear on Fridays to honor our servicemen,” she said. More details will be released closer to the event.
    “The objective of all this is to make the students aware of the sacrifices that our soldiers are making for all of us,” Cross said, “whether they believe in the war or not.”