Titanic exhibition at Pope John ‘brings humanity to the tragedy’

Since its sinking more than 100 years ago, the Titanic has had its story told a thousand different ways.

Over the last few weeks, students at Pope John High School, Pope John Middle School, and Reverend George A. Brown Memorial School took a deep dive into the most famous passenger ship in world history through the Vincent M. Love Titanic Exhibition at the Biondo Research Center.

The museum-quality exhibition features artifacts from the Titanic, a British passenger liner that sank in the North Atlantic on April 15, 1912, after striking an iceberg on its way from Southampton, England, to New York City.

The collection was on loan to Pope John courtesy of the estate of Vincent M. Love, a U.S. Army veteran who had a deep interest in transportation, the shipping industry, and all things maritime before he died in 2020. Love’s interest in historic ships led him to collect memorabilia of shipping disasters and become an expert on the Titanic. He also served as an expert consultant on the first Titanic movies.

Pope John High School students taking social studies classes this year learned about the Titanic’s story through Love’s collection. They also participated in the honors symposium “Titanic: A Return to the Depths” under the direction of social studies teacher Jacquelyn Burt, who is also a member of the Titanic Historical Society. Twenty five students explored primary sources and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute findings while also reporting on Boards of Inquiry theories and passenger survival stories.

“I thought it was really interesting,” said junior Lily Marino, who attended the symposium. “I’m kind of a nerd when it comes to history and artifacts. It was really cool to be able to see all of these things and how they are connected to all of these people. I loved learning and researching the in-depth stories about this.”

Middle school students and Reverend Brown’s fourth graders had an opportunity to put these artifacts in context with a readers theater called “The Voices of the Titanic,” from the Pigeon Forge and Branson Titanic Museums. Pope John High School’s Biondo Research Center media specialist, Judith Zoeller, curated the exhibition and facilitated the elementary and middle school workshops.

Sixth grader Aiden Tighe was amazed at how much he learned during his visit. “It was very interesting,” Aiden said. “I learned more in 80 minutes than I did with my one year of research.”

Fourth grader Skylar Csoka echoed his sentiments. “It was really cool to see and learn,” Skylar said. “I knew that it was a story about a boat hitting an iceberg and it sinking, but now I know more details about the people on the ship, what they had to do to get off it, and what happened after it sank. It was also great to see the artifacts up close because there are not a lot of places that can get their hands on these items.”

The exhibition was on display through early April.

Pope John senior Marisa Radics said, “This experience brought humanity to the tragedy.”

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