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Local History Teacher Brings History To The Classroom

PHOTO: Todd Anton

Bringing History To The Tri-Community: Heritage students Valentina Jimenez and Elana Campbell pose with the new edition to Heritage School's Berlin Wall exhibit

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Recently Heritage School history teacher and Builders Club advisor Todd Anton finished up his school year with his seventh-graders with a study on the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall. Mr. Anton was held in Communist East German custody in East Berlin in 1987. The podcast of his experience is a major feature of the very popular Cold War Conversations: (https://coldwarconversations.com/episode64/). Three years ago Anton, The Tri-Community Kiwanis Club, The Don Ferrarese Foundation,  and his students fundraised to purchase a large section of the Berlin Wall which is proudly exhibited at Heritage School. This exhibition features the names of two youngsters, Peter Fechter (18 yrs) who was the first killed at the Wall in 1962, and Chris Gueffory (20 yrs) who was killed just a few months before the Wall fell in 1989. Rumor has it that Peter just wanted to go see the Beatles who were gaining popularity in Hamburg Germany then. Chris wanted to leave East Germany because he always wanted to live at the beach in southern California. He never made it. 

Students learned the price of freedom and how so many brave people were willing to die for the chance to live and breathe free. This year’s students added to our Berlin exhibition with the addition of a new sign seen at the border between East and West Berlin. 

Heritage focuses on experiential history. During class Anton, a German speaker, was able to connect with the German consulate in LA, The Goethe Institute, and they were very impressed with their effort to honor the victims of the Berlin Wall. The German government and the Cold War Regimes Museum awarded Anton for his dedication. Anton was also able to allow his students to view a recent German movie entitled “Balloon.” This is the story of the amazing 1979 escape of the Strelzyk and Wetzel families by a balloon secretly sewn in their basement in the East German city of Pößneck. This amazing story was then applied by the students into a mathematical proportional lesson where students designed an escape balloon for an object. Their math was perfect (thanks to math teacher Ms. Cannon) and the experiment was successful. The day concluded with the installation of our new sign. 

Feel free to make an appointment to visit Heritage and view our piece of history!

Anton, along with Chapman University, and The regimes Museum, will be leading a historical tour of Berlin in July of 2022. Contact Anton at todd_anton@snowlineschools.com for details.

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