Lawton_Some Lawton Central Middle School students climbed aboard a 60-foot long truck on Tuesday, and took a field trip to the other side of the world. The students viewed artifacts from parts of Eastern Africa and the Middle East without leaving Tommy Franks' traveling classroom. Part of the Four-Star General's museum shares artifacts from his tours of service around the world.
Franks is the top architect of the Iraq war and the General now makes his home in Southwest Oklahoma. He unveiled the traveling classroom in November and says he plans to send it to more than 100 schools each year. A Central Middle School teacher said many of her students have not traveled outside of Lawton, and some have never been to a museum. She said it's amazing to have a museum come to the kids and give them a visual tour of the world.
Students peered keenly through the glass at what may have been unfamiliar items for most of them. The artifacts General Franks collected - such as a carved wooden pillow used by Sudanese people for sleeping on the ground, and a water bag from part of Djibouti where there is no plumbing. "[I learned] they go to the river to get it, and carry it back to where they need it," said Zhane Hawkins, a seventh-grader. "I learned that they bathe in the water that they drink - and that's kind of nasty."
Franks' Museum Educator says it gives her a new appreciation for the things she takes for granted. "Kids are amazed," she said. "The teachers are glad that we're bringing this to them, and for the most part they're seeing a part of culture that they wouldn't otherwise see."
One student's father saw some items in Franks' museum while serving in Iraq, but says he has not talked much about his experience. She says it helps her see more of what her father did. "When you go into museums with Iraqi stuff, it explains the culture and why," she said. "You learn more about the culture, and you'll understand why they did things."
For example, some cultures require women to cover up, and other require that women enter into arranged marriages. "Our kids are loving this," said Geography Teacher Susan Bachman. "They've all picked out something that they like, they've all picked out something that they just think is amazing, and to see them excited about something is absolutely wonderful." Seventh- grader Chris Gagne says his favorite was a form of hunting. "My favorite one was the falcon-hunting, how the falcon is specially trained, and it's a major resource of food because it hunts animals," he said. "This was neat that this came to school."
The museum will be at Central Middle School through Friday, and will be open to the general public from 2:45PM-3:30PM each afternoon.