McCool Elementary/Middle School student places fourth in National History Day competition
For Immediate Release — July 9, 2013 | Pacific
Lawrence Torres III: Public Affairs Specialist | 644-5786
July 9, 2013 — Santa Rita, Guam — “Oh Mr. Sam, Sam, my dear Uncle Sam, won’t you please come back to Guam?” is a verse from a popular song the indigenous Chamorro people sang during the Japanese occupation of their beloved homeland from 1941-1944.
This dramatic song catapults the viewer back in time in the opening of the video documentary “At the Crossroads” by Robert Jon Kranz which won 4th place in the Junior Individual Documentary portion of the 2013 Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest held June 9-13 at the University of Maryland.
The documentary by Kranz, aka RJ, covers the overall effects of atomic bomb testing on the Marshall Islands east of Guam following WWII in 1946. The video includes his interview with Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo, Guam delegate to the US House of Representatives, and a video interview with Dr. Robert Underwood, the former Guam congressman.
“RJ found a subject that was interesting to him, so he really got into the whole process,” said Neal Kranz, RJ’s father. “He set a goal of being able to compete at the national level, and he reached his goal.”
RJ, who recently completed 8th grade, chose this topic because his dad told him about a former service member, Lt. Charles B. Schreiber, who returned to Guam in 2005 to apologize for not defying orders to ignore alarmingly high radiation readings from Geiger counters he was monitoring on the island while stationed on Guam with the US Navy from 1950-1952.
“Two of the most important parts of my documentary were Lt. Schreiber's testimony and the study done by The National Academies which proved that Guam received fallout from the nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands,” RJ said.
RJ cleverly opens his documentary with footage of US service members liberating Guam from 3 years of captivity. He shows the trust that the people of Guam have for the US, highlighting the medical support, fresh food and water provided by the US military following the Japanese occupation.
RJ transitioned from US support to the atomic bomb tests by stating “that while at times this (trust) may be true, no one could foresee that the development and use of the atomic bomb in 1945 would lead to a decision by the US that would change the relationship with Guam and the islands in the Pacific forever.”
“Following the war, the US started testing the atomic bomb to improve their technology on small islands because they were small and lightly populated; however, jet stream winds and ocean currents traveled from the east, carrying the radiation from these explosions,” said RJ in his documentary.
The 10-minute documentary moves from radiation data to supporting quotes from organizations and leaders. RJ ends the touching documentary with a reminder that Guam continues to remember the support they received from the US during WWII.
“There was really a lot of support for me including members of my family and staff at McCool E/MS who helped me develop each draft of my video and the papers that I had to write,” added RJ. “It was really nice to receive all this help, and I don't think I could’ve done as well as I did without it.”
Neal said that RJ is a self-motivated learner who has always done his best to maximize academic contests and opportunities that are made available to him and that “he’s a natural competitor in whatever he does.”
About National History Day:
National History Day makes history come alive for America's youth by engaging them in the discovery of the historic, cultural and social experiences of the past. Through hands-on experiences and presentations, today's youth are better able to inform the present and shape the future. NHD inspires children through exciting competitions and transforms teaching through project-based curriculum and instruction. More information can be found at the National History Web site http://www.nhd.org/
About DoDEA Pacific:
The first organized schools for the children of U.S. military personnel serving in the Pacific were established in 1946 during post-World War II reconstruction. Throughout the decades, Department of Defense schools evolved to become a comprehensive and high-performing K-12 school system solely dedicated to educating the children of America’s heroes. Today, DoDEA Pacific’s 49 schools serve over 23,500 children of U.S. military and eligible DoD civilian personnel families stationed throughout the Pacific theater. The DoDEA Pacific teaching, administrative and school support team includes more than 3,300 full-time professionals. The schools are geographically organized into four districts: Guam, Japan, Okinawa and South Korea.
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