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A trip of history: Red Lake student, teacher selected to travel to Washington, D.C., France for World War II project

Red Lake High School junior Autumn May and Red Lake teacher Marcia Roline will travel to Normandy, France as part of a history project. They were among a select few teacher-student pairs throughout the country chosen for the trip. (Jordan Shearer | Bemidji Pioneer)

RED LAKE—A Red Lake High School student and teacher are set to take their history lessons abroad this summer.

Autumn May, an 11th-grader at the school, and social studies teacher Marcia Roline are one of 15 student/teacher pairs from across the country who have been selected to travel this summer to Washington, D.C., and Normandy, France, where they'll finish a year-long dive into the life and times of a World War II veteran who died during or after D-Day.

The trip will be the capstone of a National History Day program called "Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom Albert H. Small Student & Teacher Institute," which asks pairs such as May and Roline to pore over war records or talk to still-living descendants of a chosen D-Day veteran from their hometown or state. May and Roline said they don't know who their assigned veteran will be yet.

May said three of her grandparents fought in World War II. She's an avid history student who's been putting together History Day projects since middle school and hopes to be a lawyer someday, like her father and grandmother. The World War II project is somewhat of a departure from her usual History Day projects, which focused on civil rights and social issues.

In Washington, May and Roline can call on historians and college professors to help with their research. They're also scheduled to tour the World War II Memorial and study at the National Archives.

In France, they'll visit museums, historic battlegrounds, churches that were used as field hospitals, as well as Omaha Beach and Utah Beach, landing sites for the June 6, 1944, D-Day.

May will also be asked to read a eulogy for her assigned veteran at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France.

National History Day staff already sent her and Roline a handful of top-down books to read about prominent American World War II generals. She's also set to give two community presentations about the veteran this year and put together a profile of him or her on

Joe Bowen

Joe Bowen covers education and health for the Bemidji Pioneer.

He is a Minneapolis native and a 2009 graduate of St. John's University. Before moving to Bemidji, Bowen covered education, local politics, crime, and everything in between for the Perham Focus in Perham, Minnesota, and Sun Newspapers in suburban Minneapolis.

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