Newspapers, videos bring JFK to life for students

Students born long after John F. Kennedy’s death still took time to learn about the former president Friday, and said his legacy still inspires after 50 years.

Third grade teacher Mary Wahlig still sat at a school desk of her own the day Kennedy was assassinated.

“It was unbelievable. Nobody could believe it,” recalled Wahlig. “The teachers, the sisters, came in, and they were crying — this was at St. Vincent’s School in Davenport — and we knew something really important had happened.”

Now, Wahlig’s memories and the newspaper clippings that she saved in a scrapbook are bringing JFK alive to a new generation at John F. Kennedy School in Davenport.

Third grader Owen Stolmeier said he liked hearing stories about Kennedy as a war hero.

“John F. Kennedy was the second oldest out of nine children. He worked in the Navy, and he saved some people from the crash of a PT boat,” said Stolmeier.

“He loved sports,” added third grader Sophia Mucciarone. “He was the first Catholic president, and he was the youngest president.”

On Friday, sixth graders at JFK watched Kennedy’s inaugural address and discussed his famous quote: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” Students said they plan to try and live out Kennedy’s message in their daily lives.

“Just try to do a lot for your country and other people, and not take a lot,” said Noah Weiman.

“I think I’ll try giving more to my nation,” said Haley Schimanski.

Friday, eighth grade students gave presentations on Kennedy’s dedication to the arts, the environment and the space program. Many said his choices and dedication to service still ring true for them.

“He always drove to do better, and I think we all should strive to go farther in life like he wanted,” said Bridget Poster.