Morse High School students visit France to commemorate the anniversary of D-Day

Three Morse High School students returned last week from a trip to France, where they took part in commemorations of the D-Day landings, 80 years after Allied troops stormed the beaches of France to turn the tide of World War II.

Hannah Keller, Isla Polizotto and Rose Strelneck went on a seven-day visit to France with their French teacher, Rebecca Deschaine.

Morse High School students Isla Polizotto (from left), Hannah Keller and Rose Strelneck pose with their award-winning mural depicting the friendship between French and American artists that took them to France for the 80th anniversary of D-Day. Photo by Brenda Fagan courtesy of Morse High School

While in France, the students were guests of honor at both a binational ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery and an international invitation-only ceremony on Omaha Beach attended by 25 heads of state, including President Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“I think being able to learn more about D-Day was a real eye-opener, especially from a French perspective, because we hadn’t been taught much about it in our education up to that point,” Strelneck said.

Before the ceremony, students and Deschaine met the World War II veteran in the parking lot of the Normandy American Cemetery during the binational ceremony. He explained to the girls why he landed on D-Day and said, “I did it for you, so don’t screw it up.” “They didn’t catch his name,” Deschaine said.

Girls won an all-expenses-paid trip after participating in the 2024 French-American Friendship Competition with their wall paintings. The purpose of the competition was to showcase the friendship between France and the United States, and students painted a mural depicting the friendship between French and American artists.

Deschaine said the French consulate collected all the works created for the competition and placed them in a traveling exhibition at various consulates and participants’ schools.

The tour program included a visit to the Juno Beach Interpretive Center, 101street Airbourne Museum and D-Day Museum in Arromanches-les-Bains.

This was the first time Polizotto and Keller traveled outside the United States. Keller plans to return to France after completing her French classes to be fully prepared for her next trip.

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Morse High School students visit France to commemorate the anniversary of D-Day