Vietnam veteran Dermot Sporbert speaks with Reid Middle School eighth-grader Don Brodeur and guidance counselor Bob Reilly following a screening of a film
Vietnam veteran Dermot Sporbert speaks with Reid Middle School eighth-grader Don Brodeur and guidance counselor Bob Reilly following a screening of a film project ‘Identity,’ which was produced by seventh-grade students and includes interviews with veterans of the U.S. armed forces. (Jenn Smith / Berkshire Eagle Staff)
Friday November 9, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- In advance of Veterans Day on Sunday, students at Reid Middle School saluted local service men and women with a 21st-century-style tribute this week.

On Wednesday morning, students in Julia Sabourin's seventh-grade English language arts class shared a 30-minute video project called "Identity," a month-long effort of research, interviews, and filming military veterans and discussions about the effects and evolution of the nation's involvement in wars.

As part of their project, Reid students also collected and donated items for the city's "Here at Home Committee," which welcomes back military men and women in an honorable fashion.

The students' video starts with a segment from the History Channel about the evolution of Veterans Day from Armistice Day. The film then flows into a series of recorded interviews and report presentations.

More than 30 hours of footage and 20 area veterans and active military personnel helped create the final product, with support from the school's new Writing and Media Workshop.

It will be screened to classes in the school and to the public on Pittsfield Community Television.

Students posed a range of questions to their subjects:

Do veterans have regrets?

What's PTSD?

Did you make friends in the war?

Why did you join the military?

What did you do after you go out of service?

"I learned that the veterans do a lot to keep us safe," said seventh-grader Tyler Williamson. "It's made me more appreciative of them and I understand that wars and the military are more than just fighting."

The Marines, soldiers, Air Force and other personnel gave students honest answers to their questions -- from the notion that they joined to help others to the hope that other generations won't have to experience the horrors of combat that the veterans had.

"It was really great to be a part of it," said William Kudlate, a World War II Marine Corps veteran from Pittsfield who participated in the project.

Students and visitors at Reid Middle School study a poster that shows images from ‘Identity.’
Students and visitors at Reid Middle School study a poster that shows images from ‘Identity.’ (Jenn Smith / Berkshire Eagle Staff)

"I think it's a very good educational program and very informative for others so they might learn. This will be something that they'll always remember," the veteran said.

To reach Jenn Smith:
jsmith@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6239
On Twitter: @JennSmith_Ink