Officials from the Pacific Historic Parks disclosed yesterday the group’s plan to bring in more educational programs, not only for CNMI school children but also for incoming U.S. Marines and their families who will be assigned on the islands.
The Pacific Historic Parks is an organization that supports and funds educational materials, museum exhibits, and interpretive programs for four national parks throughout the Pacific, which include Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor, Guam’s War in the Pacific Historical Park, the Kalaupapa Historical Park, and Saipan’s American Memorial Park. It was founded as a nonprofit cooperating association with the National Park Service in 1979 and was formerly known as the Arizona Memorial Museum Association.
Yesterday, Pacific Historic Parks president and CEO Brad L. Wallis, vice chair Noel W. Bragg, regional manager for Guam and Saipan Cynthia Rapadas, and retail business manager Edean S. Saito were on a daylong visit to the American Memorial Park.
The group is scheduled to fly to Tinian today for an exploration trip.
In an interview with Saipan Tribune yesterday, Rapadas disclosed that they would like to see in a couple of years the establishment of more educational programs at Saipan’s memorial park, including the Education on Wheels and the Junior Ranger Academy programs, both of which are offered in Guam.
The Education on Wheels program provides free transportation for schoolchildren who want to visit the park, its visitor center, exhibits, and movies.
A collaboration with the Public School System will also soon be initiated to give the American Memorial Park more information about PSS and its needs, Rapadas said.
Guam’s Junior Ranger Academy is a weeklong program conducted every spring and fall semesters to children aged between 10 and 12. Participants will attend half-day sessions for a week focusing on fun activities at the park. A badge will be awarded to participants at the end of the program that will allow them to become junior rangers.
“Our theory is: children learn better when they play. So in this academy, everything is focused on playing and enjoying resources at the park,” Rapadas told Saipan Tribune.
She also praised the successful implementation of the Ridge-to-Reef Rangers program on Saipan, which teaches students the importance of preserving the health of watersheds.
Meantime, Braggs said that the Pacific Historic Parks is also interested in the U.S. Marines, who are part of the ongoing military buildup.
“Marines are coming and with these Marines are their families. There will be traffic and demand for resources, utilities, and education. So we hope to participate in satisfying that need [of education],” said Bragg, adding that Pacific Historic Parks can help in their integration by telling the stories of Saipan and Tinian to these incoming children and families through their educational initiatives.
There is a bill now pending in Congress that proposes an extension of the American Memorial Park on Tinian. Bragg, who supports the legislation, said the project may take a long time to realize but creating an extension on Tinian will create greater access to Tinian’s wartime stories. Two-thirds of Tinian is being leased by the U.S. Department of Defense.
According to Bragg, the group’s visit to Saipan coincides with the launching of a brand new $2.4-million multimedia exhibit in Guam and the introduction of newly installed CEO Brad L. Wallis, a first-timer to the islands.
Wallis yesterday told Saipan Tribune that as it is also the group’s objective to promote an understanding of the subsequent wars in the Pacific, while helping to provide a greater appreciation of the people involved in that critical history.
Besides accepting donations for the parks, the organization also sells items as souvenirs and for educational purposes, according to the CEO.