This letter is sent home to the parents of all students taking this class on the Vietnam War.
I would like to take a small portion of your time to introduce you to the academic elective that your student has chosen to take this term at Newnan High School, called the Vietnam War. I appreciate the chance to teach your student about this important and controversial time in American and World history. I wanted to make you aware of several things in regard to this class before it even begins.
First, while this is an elective, it will be rigorous. Your student will be submerged in this time period; culturally, politically and militarily. There will be quite a bit required of your student in this class, but at the same time, I think that they will leave this class knowing more about the war and this time period than most people that lived through this period know. The basis of the class is called “Community in Schools,” a program run by a friend and colleague in North Carolina. While I do not follow her model exactly, the premise is the same-allow the people that lived the history to tell it. Therefore, many veterans of the Vietnam War will be in and out of the classroom- male and female, Army, Navy, Marine, Coast Guard, Air Force and even a protester. In order for you student to be successful in this type of class, they need to have a certain level of maturity- they will be required to communicate with adults, listen without going to sleep as well as ask questions. Students in the class will also need to be willing to read as there will be a fair amount of reading involved. They will need to be disciplined in their work as I will give a number of assignments that will be due sometime in “the future;” procrastination will take its toll on a student’s grade! I also believe that students that take this class should really enjoy history- if they don’t enjoy it, this could be a long semester.
Secondly, the Vietnam War can be a sensitive and controversial topic for many people, especially today with a war going on that in some ways is very similar. I want to assure you that I am not approaching this class from a position of a “hawk” or a “dove”, liberal or conservative. While the emphasis in the class will be on the American military involvement and the servicemen and women, we will also be having speakers come into the classroom from other viewpoints, which I believe to be appropriate in having your student really think about such a controversial topic as the Vietnam War. Both sides will be presented, which will allow the student to think critically and form opinions on their own. I have included a general, overall list of topics that will be covered in the class at the end of this letter.
Third, there may be occasions where you student will run across some mature topics and objectionable language in the course of studying the Vietnam War and the 1960’s. While I will attempt to minimize this to some extent, it really will be unavoidable at times. In fact, some of the most basic terminology of the soldier in Vietnam (which we will be learning) or for a young person caught up in the counterculture involves some language that would be classified as objectionable then and now. This is one of the reasons that this class is only available to upperclassmen. This also goes back to the level of maturity required for this class- students need to realize that I am teaching them these things to allow them to understand the vocabulary which would have been common for many people during the 1960’s and thus more fully comprehend the experience of this period. If you have any questions about this, please contact me directly.
The Vietnam War covered a lot of years, a lot of territory and a lot of emotion and heartache for this country. The legacy of the Vietnam War still haunts our political leaders even today. It is a relevant and important topic for out students to study. I have spent time in Vietnam, traveled the country and visited many of the places that we will be studying about. I appreciate the opportunity to teach them about this time.
This class does have a website that I will be using in and out of class. The address is:
http://www.cowetaschools.org/nhs/quesinberry/vietnam/vietnam.htm. Please feel free to view at any time- the site contains a class syllabus and links to sites on the internet that have to do with the Vietnam War and the 1960’s. I am readily available via email if you have questions or concerns at anytime during the term. I have listed my email address below or you can email me via the Vietnam War website.
I would appreciate it if you would sign the paper attached to this page and return to me via your student. This will let me know that you did read this letter and understand the things I wanted to relate to you in regards to this class. I would also like your permission to use the battle sequence from the movie We Were Soldiers starring Mel Gibson in class. (Rated R for violence and some language) This is a very well done and accurate movie based on the first major confrontation between US Army Air Cavalry soldiers and the North Vietnamese in November, 1965. I would also like your permission for the students to watch Forest Gump at the end of the term. (Rated PG-13) Not only does the main character in this movie go to Vietnam, he is involved in many historical events of the 1960’s and 1970’s that we will have studied. I have also included a permission slip for a food activity that we will do at least twice during the term- the students will be eating Vietnamese food as well as learning how to use chopsticks as part of the class. If you could let me know about any food allergy’s etc…I could clear that now and not worry about it when it comes time to eat! I am asking each student to contribute $10.00 toward the purchase of the food. I am also planning on a field trip in October that will also cost each student $10.00. If you would like to pay both at the same time that is great. If you would prefer to wait until October to pay the field trip fee, that is fine as well. These fees will not cover the complete cost of either of these activities- the History Department will cover part of the cost. If the cost is a problem, please contact me via email or phone and let me know. I will make up that money in another way. Everyone will be able to participate regardless of financial circumstances.
Thank you for your time,
History and Social Studies Department Chairman
Newnan High School
Broad Topics to be covered:
I would like for you to sign below indicating that you have read the accompanying letter.
I would also like to get your permission to do the following things in class during this term:
1. Have your student try Vietnamese food to get a better understanding of this culture.
2. Have your student watch the battle scene from the movie We Were Soldiers, rated R due to violence and some language. We will do this about the 5th or 6th week of this term.
3. Have your student watch Forest Gump at the end of the term.
4. I am requesting that each student contribute $10.00 to help offset the cost of the Vietnamese food, get chopsticks, plates, cups, etc…
5. I am also requesting that each student contribute $10.00 to offset the cost of a field trip to the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation in Hampton, Georgia. There they will be able to get into and learn about the various aircraft used in the Vietnam War. You can pay both of these now or you can wait until October for the field trip $10.00.
Vietnam War Instructor
I have read the letter and understand its contents. I give my student permission to participate in the class food activities (please note any food allergies below) and watch the battle sequence of the movie We Were Soldiers as well as the movie Forest Gump.
Food Allergies? (If NONE, please write NONE)
Please include the $10.00 or $20.00. If you are writing a check, please make it out to the NHS History Department and include your Driver License number on the check. This number must be included on all checks as school system policy. If you have a problem with contributing the money, please let me know. Thank you!