By Holly Wise
The Cove Herald
Up a ramp and through a plastic partition, 300 students at Copperas Cove Junior High School stepped from their campus and into a far-away world - a world constructed aboard the General Tommy Franks Leadership Institute and Museum Road Show and Classroom.
The 60-foot-long rig was parked outside the school for two days last week and contained exhibits that showcased cultural, social and geographical items and information from 24 Middle East countries.
Celia Brickell, an educator who travels with the exhibit, said the traveling museum is an extension of the general's museum in Hobart, Okla.
"I enjoy it," she said. "It's a wonderful job for me; I've always loved history."
The traveling museum can visit as many as five schools a day and travels every week that school is in session, she added.
Catherine Sharbeno, a sixth-grade history teacher at CCJH, was responsible for coordinating the show's arrival.
"I've been trying to get them down here for a couple years but it never worked with our time frames," she said. "This time I started really early."
Sharbeno said she began planning the visit in August. "Everything fell into place," she said, even the weather.
Sharbeno sent her students on a scavenger hunt through the bus to find objects they've recently been studying.
The purpose of bringing the museum's lone traveling exhibit to her campus was to "give the kids an actual visual of the objects," she said.
For some students whose parents are or have been deployed, they were able to see objects from the places their parents have been.
"I thought it was cool," said one sixth-grade student, Kaleb Peterson. "I liked all the jewelry."
After one-half of the class toured the trailer's interior with educator Steve Shepler, the other half stood outside with Brickell, who used the painted side of the trailer as a giant whiteboard to point out pyramids, Egypt and Petra.
In addition to seeing objects, the students learned about cultures different from their own.
"The girls have to wait till they're 15 or 16 to get married but the guys have to wait till they're 30 or 40," Jordan Butler said.
On exhibit was a uniform worn by Franks and various indigenous weapons, which caught the eye of one student.
"I thought it was kind of cool and stuff - the weapons," Daniel Sather said.
Other students came away with an understanding of how life was lived in Middle Eastern countries.
"They turn the goat skin inside out and use it as water carriers," Katelan Warren observed.
The traveling Road Show and Classroom is one of two major Phase II projects of the General Tommy Franks Leadership Institute. Since the Road Show launched in September 2008, it has traveled to more than 40,000 miles to more than 215 schools. More than 38,000 students have toured the exhibit.
"The General Tommy Franks Leadership Institute's traveling road show is an innovative way students can immerse themselves in history and artifacts from countries all over the world," said Copperas Cove Independent School District Public Information Officer Katie Rudesheim. "We're excited to play host this wonderful event for our junior high school students."
The exhibit travels directly to schools, free of charge through donations of key sponsors. According to the Road Show's website, partnerships with Choice Hotels, Oklahoma Christian University, Design Werks, National Center for Policy Analysis, Musco Lighting, city of Hobart, DeBartolo and family, Planters Co-op, Hobart and Lone Wolf, Washington Speakers Bureau, Stockman's Bank and John Wiseman have made the program possible.
Contact Holly Wise at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7474.