The Museum of American Armor in Old Bethpage will host...

The Museum of American Armor in Old Bethpage will host the "Education Day" program on Friday. Credit: Megan Miller

The shadow of World War II, and its connections to the nearly three-month war between Russia and Ukraine, will come to life for some Long Island students on Friday during an "Education Day" at the Museum of American Armor in Old Bethpage. 

The program integrates classroom social studies curricula with operational armor, military field tactics, and mock small arms in open woods meant to resemble France during World War II.

"We'll be talking about why it's important to remember the legacy of World War II and what it's done for this country," said Gloria Sesso, the museum’s education coordinator. "They're connecting it to what's happening overseas in Ukraine … in terms of 'what does freedom mean? What does liberty mean? How have we stuck up for it in the past?' "

Libby O’Connell, the History Channel's Chief Historian Emeritus and chair of the NYC World War I Centennial Commission, said the daylong program "has the means to become a statewide model for field trips that place students in a period of time that remains a pivotal moment in world history."

Roughly 400 students will participate in the event from H. /Frank Carey High School in Franklin Square, South Middle School in Brentwood and the Long Island School for the Gifted in South Huntington. The program is co-hosted by the Long Island Living History Association and the Nassau County Department of Parks, Recreation & Museums.

"We try to integrate our curriculum with something from the outside," said Cheryl Novick, assistant head of the Long Island School for the Gifted. "Because textbook learning is great but real-life experience is even better." 

Lawrence Kadish, president and founder of the museum, said there's been a reduction in class time assigned to teaching history, and World War II in particular.

"As a result, many students have no context for what the world is seeing in Ukraine and how [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is repeating Hitler’s playbook almost to the letter. We need to appreciate that today’s headlines were written by history and this program seeks to address that.”

Museum trustee Michael Sapraicone, who is underwriting the education program, said it's important for students to understand what their grandparents and great-grandparents went through during the war — and its parallels to the Ukrainian conflict.

"This is so similar to World War II that it's a great learning experience to show these students what happened in the '30s and '40s," said Sapraicone, a former Seaford school board president. " … I want them to get hands-on experience and see some of the hardships that happened during the war."

School districts can register for the event by emailing or by calling 516-572-8409.

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