Students learn history at Academy museum

September 02, 1992|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,Staff Writer

A few months ago, the only Antietam Dustin Romey knew anything about was the Civil War battle in the small Western Maryland town.

But now the Chesapeake High School senior has learned of another Antietam -- a battleship that was one of the last American warships with sails.

As a student enrolled in a mentorship program with the U.S. Naval Academy, Dustin has spent the summer learning the history of famous ships and writing brief narratives that will be used by the academy's museum.

About 35 county high school students are enrolled in the program, a cooperative venture between the Naval Academy and the Anne Arundel Board of Education. Students fill out applications from the Board of Education and are chosen by Naval Academy instructors. They do not receive a grade but can earn high school credit for participating in the program.

In the past, students have assisted in such academic departments as political science and engineering.

This summer was the first time the program was extended to the museum.

Dustin, 16, was the museum's first intern. He heard about the mentorship program in the spring while attending the Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference.

The Pasadena teen-ager spent six to 10 hours a week researching the history of ships and writing the script for a video program at the museum.

He has already written a short history of the Merrimac and Monitor, warships that fought to a draw during the first naval battle ever between ironclads. This fall, he will research the history of the Antietam, built near the end of the Civil War.

Although he didn't know a lot about naval history when he started, Dustin said, "It's gotten more interesting as I've learned more about it."

He said he was thrilled to discover artifacts in the museum's collection that were mentioned in the histories he read.

The most difficult aspect of the work has been fitting it into his schedule. Besides school, Dustin is active in sports and clubs and holds down a part-time job.

Dustin has applied for admission to the academy, where he hopes to study engineering.

Allison McGuire, the museum's other student intern, said she isn't the military type, but nevertheless is looking forward to working at the academy this fall.

The 17-year-old Arundel High senior started work this week, helping to catalog the museum's art collection and write a visitor's brochure.

With an interest in writing and photography, she said she hoped to improve those skills at the museum.

Allison originally applied to work in the academy's political science department, but when a position wasn't available there, she looked to the museum.

Yesterday, on her first day of work, she said she didn't quite know what to expect. "I'm kind of going in blind," she said.

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