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Arlington's Post Middle School hosts Social Studies Fair

ARLINGTON The 30th annual Post Middle School Social Studies Fair drew proud parents and school staff alike, who arrived May 30 to check out the reports and displays that the eighth-grade students have been working on since the end of January.

The gymnasium was filled with projects, covering subjects ranging from personal family history to the histories of the city of Arlington and the state of Washington, as well as American history before 1900.

Lucas Revelle was inspired to do a project on World War II due to his own family's history of service in the military. Revelle's father served in Iraq and is heading for Afghanistan, while his grandfathers fought in WWII and the Korean War. Revelle spoke to his grandfather who had served in Europe, to get his perspective on D-Day.

"He was in Alsace, France, for nine months in 1945," said Revelle, while wearing his father's Naval officer uniform. "There was a while where my grandfather wouldn't talk about it, but after a reunion with his Army buddies, he really started to open up about his experiences. He still keeps in touch with them. He is who he is because he served."

Sevryn Modahl took a hands-on approach to learning about the role that Eli Whitney's cotton gin played in American history, by building his own cotton gin.

"It wouldn't take the seeds out, but everything else about it works," Modahl said of the cotton gin, which took him four hours to build from diagrams available online.

Modahl pointed out how the invention of the cotton gin contributed to the circumstances leading to the Civil War.

"Before the cotton gin, cotton wasn't the main crop of the South, but cotton became more profitable after the gin was invented," Modahl said.

Janey Foxe spotlighted "Lights Out, Seattle," a moment of modern history that her grandparents and uncle lived through firsthand.

"In 1971, Boeing's SST plane wasn't approved, which meant that they went from 100,000 to 32,000 workers," Foxe said. "Those laid-off workers either had to go on unemployment or leave the Pacific Northwest. The Pacific Northwest's gross domestic product was mainly agricultural, but with less people employed, they had less buyers, when they were also being hit by environmental issues."

Coupled with the rising prices of gas, caused by OPEC's decision to stop selling crude oil to the United States, Seattle was in such dire straits that, within the same year, a billboard read, "Will the last person leaving SEATTLE turn out the lights."

"I've learned a lot about how to prepare for such an event," Foxe said. "Sometimes you have to move or change jobs. You have to adapt your lifestyle and give up stuff to survive."

Douglas Robieson offered a different perspective on the Civil War from Modahl. Robieson and his mother Pam not only hand-sewed Union and Confederate flags, but also borrowed antique weapons of the war from local military memorabilia collections.

"The fixed bayonets weren't used except as a last resort," Robieson said of the rifles. "They were for close range approaches, and you didn't know how much ammo the enemy had. Revolvers were hard to reload, because you had to take them apart and pack in the powder."

While Robieson could cite facts and figures on the pistols, swords and other armaments of the era, his mother pointed out that he'd learned even more about the causes and conditions of the war.

"Even I hadn't known how much it was just about territory," Pam Robieson said. "It was four of the bloodiest years in American history."

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