Astounding Testimonials!

Patriotism / Citizenship

Thoughts of Teachers and Parents:

“Project American Life is a program that embodies all of the principles that the United States of America was founded upon.  As teachers, we have to be so mindful as to how trips of any kind fit the National and State standards.  This program fits so many of these standards - character education, problem-solving, real life situations, life skills, critical thinking skills, etc.  All realms of education are covered - history, writing, the arts, and science.  All students throughout our land should have an opportunity to be a participant in this program.  This program is the ultimate hands-on, minds-on program!” -Biddie Banks, Teacher, Mt. Gap Middle

“Project American Life does not simply provide lasting memories, it provides values, which are of critical importance to American culture.  As a teacher, certainly I appreciate the factual, historical information that is presented—I build on these concepts all year.  However, more importantly, as an American citizen, I appreciate the efforts that are made to undo the ravages of modern culture.  I am deeply saddened to think of a world without programs like Project American Life or a staff to so passionately and compassionately teach it.  You achieve what no public educational facility can, and I am deeply grateful and humbled because of it.  Thank you, thank you, thank you...”  -Jill Powell, Teacher, Morris Elementary

“The lasting value of Project American Life is of special importance!  It gives students the foundation desired by our country’s forefathers—a concept watered down or totally omitted in so many classrooms.  The four days, isolated from the world’s influences, allows them to shake off pretenses and focus on issues of sacrifice, gratitude, responsibility, and opportunity.  I will build on their lessons here each day in the hope of continuing this awesome week!”  -Sandra Montgomery, Teacher, Academy for Science and Foreign Language

“This program addresses issues not easily addressed in the secular world of public education. I will never forget the experience of trying to lead a group to safety across the Berlin Wall.  This truly made us all empathetic to all those who actually tried and lost their lives in the process.  My group and I emotionally ran the gambit of feelings from exuberance to sheer terror.  I cried myself to sleep last night thinking of all who died trying to gain freedom.  Long Live America!!!”  -Vicki Knotts, Teacher, Mt. Gap Middle

“I believe the lasting value of Project American Life is that the students have an understanding of “a standard” in life.  In today’s PC world, it is refreshing to see kids challenged to think about values and have pride in their country.” -David Perkins, Parent, Tuscaloosa Middle

“The Project American Life program consists of an outstanding variety of activities, exercises, games, simulations, and songs that bring home the concepts of citizenship, freedom, respect, teamwork, etc.  “In Search of America” has made a lasting impression on me.  The students will have a new respect and understanding for the American flag and all that it represents.”  -Barbara DeHaye, Teacher, Whitesburg Middle

“This was the best program I’ve ever witnessed for instilling patriotism and awareness of responsibility in our students.” -Harold Greenlee, Parent, Academy for Arts and Academics

“Project American Life is a terrific program!  It teaches principles that every child should be exposed to early in life.  I truly believe that it touches lives and will have an impact for good in our country.  The children will carry with them an appreciation for the Declaration of Independence throughout their lives because of the program.”  -Darryl Wortman, Parent, Mt. Gap Middle

“Project American Life gets better each year!  I always wonder how you will make the concept fresher, better, and easier for kids to grasp / embrace / internalize.  From the minute you arrive, the idea of liberty is planted and every ensuing activity builds a deeper sense of responsibility to preserve, protect, and defend the daily freedom our students mindlessly enjoy!”  -Nanette Respess, Teacher, Morris Elementary

“The long lasting effects of Project American Life will be that children develop a love of country, respect for the flag, the ability to question and the desire to seek the answer, a love of God, and a belief that there is more to life than one’s self.” -Keith LaCoste, Parent, Tuscaloosa Middle

“I believe students will carry with them a greater understanding of the values upon which our nation is founded—and that they will build on this as they grow and mature.”  -Virginia Carden, Teacher, Whitesburg Middle

“I will hold most special the “gut feelings,” even as an adult, when we played In Search of America, finally making it to the embassy, and seeing the children so warmly welcome others as they “gained freedom.”  These were the things that were most imprinted in my memory and my understanding of how precious our freedoms are and how wonderful it is to try to share these freedoms and responsibilities with others.”  -Linda Warren, Teacher, Mt. Gap Middle

“The importance of Project American Life is that it involves the children in an extended program of patriotic instruction—so much more effective that an hour-long program on the 4th of July!”  -Jim Johnson, Teacher, The Altamont School

“Project American Life prepares students to be good, responsible, and moral citizens of society.  Every child in the state would benefit by coming to Project American Life.  I evaluate Project American Life over and above the highest standard of measurement.  Words can’t really describe Project American Life.  This entire experience was awesome – unbelievable program!”  -Jonathan Snodgrass, Teacher, Academy for Science and Foreign Language

“The meaning of the U.S. flag will be forever changed for them.  As we discuss U.S. history, World history, or current events, they will have an experience in their background to relate and build on that will allow them to integrate this information into their knowledge base.”  -Myrna Miller, Teacher, Chapman Elementary

 “My most memorable experience occurred when we reached the U.S. Embassy during “In Search of America.”  My son saw his girlfriend, who had arrived earlier.  She shouted and held out her arms and as they hugged one another.  They began jumping up and down shouting, ‘We’re free; we’re free!’  That really says it all.”  -Randy Cruse, Parent, Mt. Gap Middle

“There are two things that I hope will remain with my students:  One is a spirit of gratefulness, recognizing and remembering the privileges they have as American citizens.  Secondly, the realization that they are uniquely and wonderfully made and there is a purpose for their existence.”  -Minda Paxton, Teacher, Westlawn Middle

“I believe it is important for all Americans to realize and understand how and why our country came to be what it is.  I hope the children never forget what it means to be American, how special it is, and what responsibilities that entails.  Is this program important? Yes!  Thank you for a great week of life lessons!”  -Anne Phillips, Teacher, The Altamont School

“I am and have been very impressed with the Project American Life program.  Children and all of us need to be reminded often that our freedom came at a price and that we should never take it for granted.  I also appreciate the fact that political correctness has not kept you from reminding the kids that our country was founded as a “nation under God.”  -Suzanne Bailey, Parent, Mt. Gap Middle School

“The long lasting value of Project American Life is learning the heritage of the United States and its role in shaping the way the world should be.  Project American Life is a great program that can benefit all children.”  -Rodney Lawler, Teacher, Hampton Cove Middle School

“Project American Life provides our students with an exceptional life-changing experience.  Once again, seeing our kids grow and learn about our country’s heritage—it’s probably their most special experience in all of middle school.  The ideals they learn and share with others will only enhance their future role as citizens of our country.”  -David Mertzbacher, Teacher, Eastwood Middle School

“This program is the reason I continue to teach in a public school.  It is perhaps my only chance to give something real to my students.  My co-workers and I almost kill ourselves trying to get us all here.  We would not do this unless we knew what an impact Project American Life has.  Thank you for providing the means to reclaim the culture... thank you for renewing my spirit...”  -Jill Powell, Teacher, Morris Elementary

“Project American Life is a truly worthwhile program that benefits all who attend.  The positive approach to the American ideals doesn’t surface enough in society today so we need this program!!!”  -Vicki Knotts, Teacher, Mt. Gap Middle School

“The program has opened the eyes of the students to what the American flag stands for, why our country is so special, and what our country was established upon.  Students now know why we need to be grateful for all of our freedoms.”  -Cheryl Shelton, Teacher, The Academy for Science and Foreign Language

“The children have developed a sense of patriotism and a view of their uniqueness in this world, thus making them feel too special to do anything harmful to themselves or others.  I thank you for renewing my love of country and God.  My wish for Project American Life is that it spreads across this state and this country.”  -Anne Phillips, Teacher, The Altamont School

“It is of maximum importance that our young people today understand the values on which this country was founded; these are the basis for our country’s success!  Students also have had an opportunity to focus on the reality of the lives given during our early history up to today in order to preserve these freedoms.  Hopefully we will no longer take them for granted.  Thank you all for your willing hearts, great energy, and especially the love you show all of us here at Project American Life.”  -Penny Shell, Teacher, Whitesburg Middle School

“Project American Life does much to teach the students about our past and how blessed we are to live here, but that is by far not all.  It allows the students to see that they have opportunities that others only dream of and to waste these would mean the people who gave their lives so we could have these opportunities died in vain.  It is a life changing experience.”  -Natalie Lane, Teacher, Mountain Gap Middle School

“This was an amazing learning experience for the students and myself.  These children were stretched physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.  Not only did P.A.L. instill a sense of pride for our country in my students, but it also revived in me an appreciation for our country and all those who died so that I may have freedom.  I pray that these students come away with a spirit of gratefulness for all that they have.  I believe this program has accomplished this.  I also pray that these students will go through life using the minds God has given them.  They have used their minds this week in ways they never have before.” -Meredith Wenzel, Teacher, Westminster Christian Academy

“The lasting value is to understand that freedom did not come freely, and we all have a responsibility to others not as fortunate.  This was such an awesome experience!  I wish all of the students could have come, and I’m so glad my son was able to experience this.”  -Tina Totora, Parent / Teacher, Mountain Gap Middle School

“This is an amazing program!  This was my first year, and I couldn’t wait to get here.  The whole experience was even better than I had imagined.  I walk away feeling prouder than ever to be an American.  Thank you for reminding me and the children about what that means.”  -Kelly Bell, Teacher, Whitesburg Middle School
 
Thought of Students:

“Everything was the best.  The three most important things I learned were to judge carefully and not just from mere words, that America is the only nation that was born on a principle, and that character, love, and wisdom are very important and nothing in the world can buy them.  Project American Life helps people realize what we really are, and that we can change in a good way.”  - Patty, 6th Grade

“I learned how special and great being an American is.  I never was thankful for that before.  I also learned how great it is to be human and to be living.”  - Kelly, 6th Grade

“The most important thing I learned about myself this week is to be thankful for what we have, that we live in a great country and should not take it for granted.  Project American Life is all about learning things to help you in life.”  - Grant, 6th Grade

“My best experience was “In Search of America.”  I liked it because it was fun and taught us about what thousands of people went through.  It also helped me to appreciate the things that we have today.  I learned that I should be thankful for what I have.”  - Karlene, 6th Grade

“My most memorable experience at Project American Life is the Citizenship Game.  I liked how it showed what it was like to have someone completely control me and take all the money I made.  Project American Life is learning about our rights, how fortunate we are, what we should think about being free, and the pains people took to give freedom to us.”  - Coleman, 6th Grade

“My best experience at Project American Life was escaping from East Berlin because that’s what actual people went through, and knowing what happened is the only way you can stop it from happening in the future.”  - Paige, 6th Grade

“In Search of America makes you proud to be an American.  I learned that I can do anything, and that I shouldn’t give up, and that love conquers fear.  My group leader was always getting us to think.”  - Taylor, 6th Grade

“We are so blessed to live here in the U.S.A.  Project American Life is keeping the morals of America alive even after 200 years.”  - Stephen, 6th Grade

“In Search of America helped me to understand how hard some people’s lives are and realize that we are so lucky to be living in the U.S.A.!  Project American Life teaches kids to be appreciative, respectful, and compassionate.”  - Kelsey, 6th Grade

“Project American Life is about learning all that the soldiers and other people had to go through in order to give us freedom.”  - Lauren, 6th Grade

“The most important thing I learned this week was how good it is to have freedom.  It’s important so we don’t take everything for granted.”   - Mitch, 5th Grade

“I have learned how fortunate we are to live here in America.  It is important because I never realized how good we have it.”  - Dasha, 6th Grade

American History / Civics

Thoughts of Teachers and Parents:

"I believe the longest lasting effect on students is that they will attain a higher level of maturity and responsibility, both personal and civic.  I think they will have an increased understanding of their role in society and their ability to shape their future, the nation's future, and the future of their world.  I think they will have a sense of appreciation for their community and a sense of compassion for the less fortunate.  They are changed forever...in a wonderful way!" 
- Randy Cruse, Parent, Mt. Gap Middle
 
"This is an outstanding program in all regards -- well organized and well thought out.  I especially like 'The Citizenship Game' and 'In Search for America' as these simulations bring the study of government and history to life for the kids.  One of my students said to me, 'I wish we could do all our school like this, because then we'd remember!'"
- Barbara DeHaye, Teacher, Whitesburg Middle
 
"Absolutely the best program in the state!  Project American Life should become a part of a national social studies curriculum.  Any educator, parent, or politician who does not recognize the importance of the concepts being conveyed is simply unaware!" 
- Jill Powell, Teacher, Morris Elementary
 
"I loved seeing history come alive right before the children's eyes.  It was so real to them.  Students will look at the world differently as they figure out how they will contribute to society in a positive way." 
- Annie Jewell Cheatham, Teacher, Mt. Gap Middle
 
"This experience reminded me that this country is and should be a leader in the Free World.  In addition, it is refreshing to know that there is a program like Project American Life that educates our young people in such a way as to stay on the straight and narrow.  The long lasting effects are that an enhanced foundation of what we are, where we are, and why we are here will be instilled in each and everyone's mind." 
- David Hardin, Parent, Mt. Gap Middle
 
"The purpose of Project American Life is to educate children in the founding principles of the United States and the importance of the Declaration of Independence.  The Citizenship Game was the best economics lesson I've ever seen!" 
- Jim Gatherer, Parent, Mt. Gap Middle
 
"Definitely the most beneficial activity my students will experience this year.  I will hold the night "escape and evasion" program based on the Berlin Wall my most special experience.  Even if they only take to heart a portion of what was experienced in Project American Life, it will have a major impact on their lives." 
- Major Gary R. Leopold, Teacher, Academy for Arts and Academics
 
"The long lasting effects are that our students will have the advantage of being more responsible citizens.  The will have a deeper appreciation of our country and what it stands for.  They will be more sensitive to each other and respect the rights and feelings of other people." 
- David Merzbacher, Teacher, Tuscaloosa Middle
 
"I think it is a wonderful program.  I like the idea of separating them by the caste system and then bringing them back together into work teams.  I think this will give them a greater appreciation for what they have and the country in which they live." 
- John Timlin, Principal, Mt. Gap Middle
 
"Project American Life is a wonderful civics lesson.  Students are part of the program.  They are not just talked to, but actively involved.  Great!" 
- David Perkins, Parent, Tuscaloosa Middle
 
"The longest lasting effect on students is that they develop a sense of who they are in relation to the world.  They sense that they are loved, they realize their unique gifts and talents, and they see that they should celebrate our gift of freedom.  The seeds of thought, concepts, and ideas that are planted during the Project American Life games are harvested in our classrooms.  As we study the Revolutionary War, we see the "ah-ha" of why the Patriots fought so hard." 
- Nanette Respess, Teacher, Morris Elementary
 
"I enjoyed most the opportunity to provide living experiences, learning experiences, not possible in a classroom setting." 
- Virginia Carden, Teacher, Whitesburg Middle
 
"Late Wednesday night, after In Search of America, the boys in my cabin were talking about the fear and joy they felt during the game.  They then began talking about all of the war movies they had seen and what the characters must have felt and believed in.  They really got the point.  The long-lasting effect will be when they hear things in the news, they'll be able to understand what the news means." 
- Jim Gatherer, Parent, Mt. Gap Middle
 
"Project American Life has high expectations in the area of respect -- respect for themselves, their peers and authority.  The children now understand the importance of the Declaration of Independence and how it relates to each individual." 
- Karen Nelson, Asst. Principal, Whitesburg Middle
 
"Again, the experience of bringing a new group of students to Project American Life has been extremely rewarding.  The students are probed to think deeply about their inner worth as well as the value of others.  As a social studies teacher, I especially appreciate the emphasis on valuing the republic in which we are blessed to live." 
- Penny Shell, Teacher, Whitesburg Middle
 
"The Project American Life program fits well with the State Course of Study.  Project American Life centers around America's foundation and how each person is part of the process of making an impact in a positive way." 
- Annie Cheatham, Teacher, Mt. Gap Middle School
 
"The progression of the activities and content was very effective.  Each day built on the day before.  The kids have a much stronger, positive belief that they are truly blessed to be a part of this country and that they have the responsibility to keep making it a welcoming, safe haven for everyone -- not only the U.S., but their state, city, neighborhood, and classroom." 
- Lesa Roberts, Teacher, Hampton Cove Middle School
 
"I believe Project American Life has given all of us who attended a renewed appreciation for the great country we live in and the ideals on which it was founded." 
- Robin Foss, Parent, Mt. Gap Middle School
 
"Project American Life teaches such important concepts which all of our children need to learn.  If our kids remember just a small part of the program, I truly have great confidence in the future of our country." 
- David Mertzbacher, Teacher, Eastwood Middle School
 
"I love In Search of America!  As a Hispanic, I understand how very precious this gift of freedom truly is.  Relatives who lived and escaped the cruel tyranny of Cuba's government always brought to light how much we take for granted as Americans." 
- Ana Mari Cadilla, Teacher, Mt. Gap Middle School
 
“As a history teacher, I thought this program was great!  I was wondering if I could steal you guys and have you teach my history classes.  Actually, P.A.L. is going to make my job easier in teaching history this year.” 
- Christopher Stokes, Teacher, Westminster Christian Academy
 
“This interactive program rates a 10+.  Our 6th graders experience the creation of our Declaration of Independence.  They learn to think about what is right and moral; they learn love of human life and respect for others; they leave with respect and appreciation for our American Freedoms!” 
- Penny Shell, Teacher, Whitesburg Middle School
 
“Project American Life has given our kids a look at our nation, not as a bunch of facts and dates in a history book, but at the ideals and values that our nation was founded on.  People don’t like to think, but this camp has made our kids think and given them the tools to think with.” 
- Shannon Fields, Parent, Whitesburg Middle School

Thoughts of Students:

"Project American Life means a lot to me.  It made me appreciate how free and wonderful our country is.  It also reminded me how love, character, and wisdom were much more important than material things.  I learned how precious every moment of our life is and how fortunate we are and how thankful we should be.  Project American Life meant much knowledge and precious lessons, as well as great fun." 
- Kelly, 6th Grade
 
"The best thing in Project American Life was "In Search of America."  It was fun because it was so real, and when we got to the campfire the feeling that I got was unreal." 
- Kelsi, 5th Grade
 
"This week I learned that America is great, humans are great, and the Declaration of Independence is important.  Project American Life teaches you about yourself and the world around you. I learned that I am special." 
- Katie, 6th Grade
 
"Project American Life is all about thinking more.  It teaches us to be more creative.  It is also about history and why it is important." 
- Michaela, 6th Grade
 
"Project American Life is about pursuing something greater than ourselves." 
- Luke, 6th Grade
 
"Project American Life is all about showing us the best way to live our lives so that we'll know what to do in the future to make a difference." 
- Olivia, 6th Grade
 
"Project American Life is about learning about your country and what is special about it.  My best experience was singing and understanding the songs." 
- Leslie, 6th Grade
 
"The most important thing I learned was how lucky I am to be free.  It is important because we have rights and can live without being told how to do so." 
- Coleman, 6th Grade
 
"Project American Life is about how real life works, and we learned how to adjust and achieve true greatness." 
- Jeremy
 
"Project American Life is learning that being a good leader means to also be a good servant." 
- Kathryn
 
"During In Search of America my adrenaline was rushing, and it was as though I was truly escaping.  I think Project American Life is a stepping stone to the real world." 
- Christopher, 6th Grade
 
"Project American Life is about informing us about our history and allowing us to experience it.  I understand the time that East Germans had trying to get to the West.  I would have never understood if I had read it from a history book." 
- Sarah, 6th Grade
 
"The most important thing I learned was how to be thankful.  Project American Life is about learning how to respect what our country has given to us, and all the people who gave their lives to make our country that way." 
- Alexandria, 6th Grade
 
"I learned so much about the Declaration of Independence.  It is important because we need to know what our country is founded on." 
- Sarah, 6th Grade
 
"My best experience at Project American Life was In Search of America.  I learned about the hardships people in search of freedom face.  It made me more grateful." 
- Rain, 6th Grade
 
"The most important thing I learned was the Declaration of Independence so I could know why people put their lives on the line for freedom." 
- Warren, 6th Grade
 
"I learned where our rights come from.  This is important because we should know about our culture and the people who really knew these things." 
- Christina, 6th Grade
 
"I think Project American Life is about learning about liberty, responsibility, and history.  It is about being grateful." 
- Zack, 6th Grade
 
"The most important thing I learned was that all men are Created equal.  Project American Life is helping kids find themselves and helping them know what America is all about." 
- Phillip, 6th Grade
 
"I love Project American Life!  It teaches you about yourself, the Declaration of Independence, and others.  I am so fortunate to have the things I have.  I am a fine china plate, not a paper plate." 
- Marissa, 6th Grade
 
“Escaping from East Berlin was my best experience because it taught us what every day life is like for people for people who live in Communism.” 
- Jean, 6th Grade
 
“Project American Life is about learning about our history and learning that we have so much and we need to be grateful for it and much, much more.” 
- Kyle, 6th Grade
 
“Project American Life is about learning our history and how different standards make different lives.” 
- Huston, 6th Grade
 
“I learned more about America’s greatest documents.  It is important to know what they stand for and what they mean.” 
- Ashley, 6th Grade
 
“I think that P.A.L. is about re-creating the past so that we can understand it.”  
- Maddie, 6th Grade
 
“Project American Life is all about learning about history without even realizing you’re doing it because you’re having fun at the same time.” 
- Stephanie, 6th Grade
 
“Project American Life is about the past lives who gave up their lives to give us liberty.” 
- Rodney, 5th Grade

Education / Thinking Skills

Thoughts of Teachers and Parents:

"On Monday, we brought with us 107 rambunctious, loud, inattentive 12 year olds who, with some exceptions, were for the most part clueless about what is truly essential in their lives.  We return home today with children capable of introspection, children more likely to reflect upon life's truths, life's absolutes.  As teachers, we return with hope and with the faith that this week has, in an important and lasting way, changed our students' minds and hearts.  We have faith that these four short days live long in our students' psyche and make a significant mark in who they'll become." 
- Ana Mari Cadilla, Teacher, Mt. Gap Middle
 
"The lasting value of Project American Life is that the seed of hope has been planted.  You, as a staff, will never know what fruit your work bears in the bigger picture.  The kids you think didn't get it are the very ones who will answer with the best thought during our study of the American Revolution, designing / writing the Constitution, and even the Civil War.  These kids (who often come from hopeless environments) never forget Project American Life.  They come back years later and say, "I remember the night hike when I had to trust my leader" or "I remember the game and how scared I was but so happy to reach the American Embassy!"  Thank you for your patience, perseverance, commitment, and love of kids for all these character traits combined really do bring about a change in our kids -- though you may not have the privilege of seeing it-believe it, it is there!" 
- Nanette Respess, Teacher, Morris Elementary
 
"Project American Life pulls together all the lessons we would like to provide the children in one setting." 
- Carol Gaines, Counselor, Mt. Gap Middle
 
"Of all the things I do for my classes -- both in school and out - in the two years I have them, Project American Life is by far the most important.  It plants "seeds" - and presents alternatives -- that my kids can always fall back on as they get older." 
- Major Gary R. Leopold, Teacher, Academy for Arts and Academics
 
"The long-lasting effect of Project American Life is that it encourages us to think for ourselves and to value the freedom and bounty that has been given to us.  The introspection and the pursuit of intellectual rigor are life-long tools."  
- Lesa Brahm, Parent, Mt. Gap Middle
 
"I hold most special the in-depth thinking process through which the students discover "facts" about who, where, what, and why we are here -- both as Americans and as humans beings." 
- Penny Shell, Teacher, Whitesburg Middle
 
"The program was excellent with many, many opportunities for critical thinking.  I appreciated the emphasis on values and the development of a greater appreciation for our country and freedoms.  Patriotism should have a deeper meaning for our students now." 
- Carolyn Foote, Teacher, Peer Helper from Stone Middle School
 
"The program was excellent!  I have seen and heard our students express themselves more in the last four days than in the last year and a half." 
- Leigh Harrison, Teacher, Williams Tech
 
"My most special experience at Project American Life was watching my son pick up on the basic ideals of the program and put them into his own words and express this with others.  The students have learned to think things through and not follow blindly.  I think they finally have a clue how special it is to be an American." 
- Lars Sibley, Parent, Mt. Gap Middle
 
"Project American Life is of special importance because for some children this may be the first and only time that they will have this type of exposure.  This is a foundation upon which they will be able to build." 
- Alvena Crump, Grandmother and Retired Teacher, Morris Elementary
 
"I think the children have seen the world from a new perspective.  All the things they take for granted in their lives have experienced a shift.  Their "community" has been enlarged and that is a significant experience." 
- Chaille Raines, Teacher, Meadowview Elementary
 
"Project American Life is a program ahead of its time and yet long overdue.  Two thoughts will remain with me:  My students have been told and shown in various ways that each is special and has a purpose.  As a teacher, the setting and the curriculum have reminded me of my rights to teach the truth." 
- Sandra Montgomery, Teacher, Academy for Science and Foreign Language
 
"Project American Life has given our young people a reason to think about who they are, where they are, and what they are.  It also puts the responsibility for their actions on them." 
- Annie J. Cheatham, Teacher, Mt. Gap Middle
 
"I rate the program a 10.  I am especially appreciative of the idea of pursuing truth and experiencing the joy of freedom." 
- Thomas Parker, Parent, Chapman Elementary
 
"Awesome!  The curriculum with its emphasis on values, character education, self-reflection, and understanding who we are strikes a great balance with all the garbage out there in the world.  The students were pointed in a direction which encouraged and challenged them to really begin asking difficult questions about themselves and the meaning for their existence." 
- Jim Clifford, Teacher, Mill Springs Academy
 
"It was the most amazing experience I've had in recent memory.  The program is so compelling in nature that it is almost impossible to describe.  As one student said at the end of camp, 'I certainly got my money's worth.'  I will hold most special watching the change in the children from a "me" orientation to a "we" orientation." 
- Ford William, Parent, Tuscaloosa Middle
 
"Project American Life is amazing!  It teaches life-long principles and lessons through fun activities that are not only entertaining but thought provoking as well." 
- Jayme Mothershed, Teacher, Mt. Gap Middle School
 
"It's difficult to put into words what this program means to me and my students.  I have witnessed a change and a bonding in these kids that could not have occurred in a typical classroom.  I am excited to see the ideals of this country spoken of freely on a daily basis with no shame or regret.  I am truly impressed with all aspects of Project American Life." 
- Anne Phillips, Teacher, The Altamont School
 
"Project American Life is a great program for getting kids to think about their place in the world, about personal responsibility, and trying to do something with their lives." 
- Adam Landingham, Teacher, The Academy for Science and Foreign Language
 
"I will hold most special watching my students interact, learn to trust each other and work as a unit to solve problems.  I especially was touched by the moments when the light really shone through a student.  I came as a skeptic that a four-day field trip would justify its value.  I leave a convert.  Thanks for what you do here so enthusiastically." 
- C. James, Teacher, The Academy for Science and Foreign Language
 
"I cannot possibly list all of the special experiences we had on one piece of paper!  One of the greatest accomplishments of the program is that it forces children to analyze the world in which we live.  They must understand where we were, where we are presently, and then they must ultimately decide where we are to go in the future. In this "me" oriented world, this line of questioning is priceless..."  
- Jill Powell, Teacher, Morris Elementary
 
“What a fantastic way to bring knowledge to young people.  It’s wonderful to see enthusiasm in young people about history, character education and life lessons.” 
- Wynelle Sewell, Guidance Counselor, Mountain Gap Middle School
 
“For some this is a repackaging of ideas and concepts they’ve heard in the past, but packaged in a way that is meaningful and delivered by respected sources.  For some of these concepts may be new.  In either case, the content and timing of the message will have a profound and lasting effect on our local communities and our nation.  Thank you, and please continue in this great work.  How refreshing to know that such a program exists: one that so effectively reaches kids before they’ve had a chance to make to make too many bad choices, and one that inspires young people to make a positive difference in their world.” 
- Eddie Sturgis, Parent, Whitesburg Middle School
 
“This was one of the best learning experiences I have seen for any age group.  Experience is the key, and I wish that more programs were available to our children – this is cutting edge stuff.  The techniques used to teach these ideas are memorable and the ideas will continue to resurface in these minds for a long time.” 
- Margaret Cooper, Parent, Eastwood and Tuscaloosa Middle Schools
 
“Project American Life is an incredible program that captures the children’s imaginations and attention immediately.  The children did / played programs / activities that made them learn and actually think about what they were learning.  They have been made aware of concepts that they really hadn’t thought of before.  They played games that helped them truly understand ideas and concepts in a way that they will remember and truly understand.” 
- Shag Syed, Parent, Eastwood and Tuscaloosa Middle Schools
 
“The children leave with a feeling of self-worth.  The have a better understanding of the world around them and our country.  I could teach out of a textbook for two years and not have them learn what they have this week!” 
- Kimberlie Eason, Teacher, Providence and Morris Elementary Schools
 
“I really appreciate the way that P.A.L. makes kids think deeply, rather than just regurgitate facts.  P.A.L. helps kids step out of their own little world, outside of themselves, and into the world of others.” 
- Dawn Baker, Teacher, Westminster Christian Academy

Thoughts of Students:

"All of the experiences at Project American Life were good because it wasn't superficial.  IT WAS REAL!  You didn't teach us facts for a test, but facts for LIFE.  We need to have a motivation.  We need to know how fortunate we really are.  This experience will last us all our lives.  It refreshed our souls, or that's what it felt like.  I feel new.  I've always wanted to talk about deep stuff.  I finally got to do it." 
- Natalia, 6th Grade
 
"The best thing about Project American Life was the way we learned the most valuable things in the world, and still had fun." 
- Alicia, 6th Grade
 
"I learned to try to see things for myself before simply believing someone else, and that you really have to try your very hardest sometimes to get something accomplished." 
- Jennifer, 6th Grade
 
"I learned that human beings are really special.  Some people say that if we went back in time and there were no humans, the world would be more beautiful.  But nobody would be there to enjoy it." 
- Kaitlyn, 6th Grade
 
"Project American Life is about learning without books, having fun adventures, and learning about important things." 
- Lauren, 6th Grade
 
"Project American Life made me know what life is really like.  It really made me think.  Thanks!"
- Jaymee, 6th Grade
 
"I think Project American Life is about preparing you for life when you get older.  It helped me see things about myself I had never seen before." 
- Jodi, 6th Grade
 
"Project American Life is all about learning to use your mind to its fullest extent." 
- Austin, 5th Grade
 
"Project American Life is about learning how special and important life is." 
- Brandi, 5th Grade
 
"I learned to think before I make judgments or take action, so that I can be aware of everything in life.  Project American Life is just like it says on our t-shirts, "Reclaiming the Culture... One Child at a Time." 
- Steven, 6th Grade
 
"I learned to think on my own (for myself).  By using the lenses of thinking, I learned the difference between thinking something through and just talking gibberish." 
- Sigourney, 5th Grade
 
"Project American Life is about Life -- the life we live, the love we give, the fun we share, that place we live (America), and the places we'll go.  Project American Life was really great and I think everyone should be able to come." 
- Chantias, 6th Grade
 
"Project American Life is an educational journey that helps you solve problems and deal with all kinds of different situations." 
- Nova, 6th Grade
 
"The most important thing I learned was how to think.  Project American Life is about real life so that we can know what to expect." 
- Annie, 6th Grade
 
"The most important thing I learned this week was what I want to do with my life because you have to figure it out sometime.  Project American Life is about finding out why you were put on the earth." 
- Wright, 6th Grade
 
"Project American Life is learning things that most people have forgotten." 
- Julia, 5th Grade
 
"The most important things I learned this week were the four lenses because they taught me to be able to back up my argument." 
- Jacob, 6th Grade
 
"Project American Life teaches to make the right decisions in life, to help you get over your fears, and to help you think for yourself." 
- Brittanie, 5th Grade
 
"I think Project American Life is about learning about other people, role playing their lives, and knowing how they feel.  It is also about learning the true meaning of life." 
- Ava, 5th Grade
 
“The most important thing I learned this week was what it feels like to be handicapped.  When I see someone who is handicapped, I’ll stop and greet them because now I know what it feels like to be handicapped.” 
- Hunter, 6th Grade
 
“The most important thing I learned this week was that all people are created equal and we should treat each other like fine china and not paper plates.” 
- Haley, 6th Grade
 
“The most important thing I learned is to be grateful.  It’s important because my dad has been teaching me that for a while and this has finally helped me understand.” 
- Jasmine, 6th Grade
 
“P.A.L. taught us what it would be like if we were in someone else’s position.  It taught us and allowed us to take chances and set goals and complete them.  The most important thing I learned was that everyone has a purpose in life.” 
- Joe, 6th Grade
 
“The most important thing I learned this week was that we complain about medium-well and well-done, while other people suffer from malnutrition, lack of freedom, and anarchy – just to name a few.  We should stop worrying about the little things and focus on these larger problems.” 
- Benjamin, 6th Grade
 
“Project American Life puts us in other people’s shoes and lets us experience it.  It makes us realize how good we have it.”
- Samantha, 6th Grade

Character / Virtue

Thoughts of Teachers and Parents:

"This program does more to bring young people and adults to a resolve about the standards by which they will choose to live their lives than any other program I've ever witnessed." 
- Penny Shell, Teacher, Whitesburg Middle
 
"Project American Life is an outstanding, dynamic character-building program.  I wish it could be seen on TV by millions of adults and children -- reality TV at its best!" 
- Rebecca Podolski, Teacher, Highlands Elementary
 
"Once again, I come back to school absolutely refreshed and revitalized!  I am constantly in awe of this wonderful curriculum and its effects on our students." 
- David Merzbacher, Teacher, Tuscaloosa Middle
 
"Both times that I have attended Project American Life, I have left feeling rested and refreshed.  In addition, I have left with a sense that I have reordered things in my life.  In other words, I have left with a renewed sense of what's really important in life-friends, relationships -- and not material items." 
- Alicia Clark, Teacher, Williams Middle
 
"Project American Life is a very positive program, because it strengthens the aspects of core values and principles that are absent in many of today's children and educational settings.  I will hold most special the positive feelings I received from seeing the light bulb come on when a child connects with the purpose or teachings of an exercise.  The students will continue to think more about the absolute principles that should be the guide and illumination for all of our decisions and actions."
 - Mark Premo, Parent, Tuscaloosa Middle
 
"Excellent -- functionally important principles communicated in a fun, exciting and thought-provoking manner.  I really don't think you can put into words the value of a program like this -- simply wonderful!" 
- Christopher Thomas, Teacher, The Altamont School
 
"I believe everyone should have the opportunity to experience this program.  Each year I watch my students change into compassionate, thoughtful human beings who seek answers to life's difficult questions and make an effort to take responsibility for themselves and others.  They move from "me-centered" to "we-centered.  Once again, thank you all for an amazing adventure." 
- Jayme Mothershed, Teacher, Mt. Gap Middle School
 
"Project American Life is a superb program, and I highly recommend it to any teacher / school.  So many things that are important in life, such as mutual respect and cooperation are difficult to teach in a classroom setting.  Project American Life combines the staff, program, and environment to facilitate training in these critical areas.  The staff serves as excellent role models.  I always enjoy "The Friendship Meal" -- if only for a moment, our kids are forced to realize just how very fortunate they are." 
- Major Gary Leopold, Teacher, Academy for Arts and Academics
 
"This is an excellent, much-needed program.  The staff members have taught these children important life lessons.  They have reminded me of some as well." 
- Anne Phillips, Teacher, The Altamont School
 
"All of it was great, and to be honest, took me by surprise.  I was very impressed -- this program is excellent and needs to be extended to all schools.  The lasting value is that freedom is precious, and needs to be remembered." 
- Douglas Brazier, Parent, Whitesburg Middle
 
"Project American Life has offered an opportunity for our students to become more caring, compassionate citizens.  It is my hope that we will see these students take these experiences and live the ideas found in The Declaration of Independence." 
- David Merzbacher, Teacher, Tuscaloosa Middle
 
"This is a superior program with a comprehensive curriculum.  It has the potential to change lives, build leaders, and promote positive character traits." 
- Jane Fain, Teacher, Peer Helpers
 
"I am not aware of another program around like this one!  This program provides something that is missing from public schools today -- values, ideals, and inspiration by the One who Created us all.  Project American Life provides a much-needed attitude adjustment for our boys and girls who are products of our "me" society.  Top notch program!" 
- Vicki Knotts, Teacher, Mt. Gap Middle
 
"Project American Life is very much needed given the moral decline that is continually facing our schools today.  I hope there is a new appreciation for the freedom and privileges that we have as a country." 
- Patsy Gray, Teacher, Williams Tech Middle
 
"The lasting value of Project American Life are - morals - compassion - friendships - values - and these are of the utmost importance.  The program is very meaningful -- laying a basic foundation and building on it by addressing the questions of "Who am I, What am I, Where am I, and Why am I."  Each question is explained by the students’ participation in hands-on activities and discussions.  May God richly bless each of you!  Continue to "make a difference" in the lives of the children." 
- Vicky Lanza, Teacher, Hampton Cove Middle School
 
"I know nothing is perfect, but Project American Life is as close to perfection as anything can get on this earth.  Anyone who doesn't see the value and necessity of the program and / or doesn't sacrifice to bring this program to all schoolchildren must be a fascist!" 
- Jill Powell, Teacher, Morris Elementary
 
“Project American Life has taken what children have up until recently only marginally understood (compassion, consideration) and made it a real emotion for them.  It’s no longer just lip service.  They actually realize how they are blessed, while there are people in this world who are suffering.  I believe that they have learned gratitude for what they have and compassion for those that may not be so blessed.” 
Shag Syed, Parent, Eastwood and Tuscaloosa Middle Schools

Thoughts of Students:

"The most important thing I learned was to hold on to my goals.  I also learned to respect the disabled and to feel for the people who only eat have rice to eat." 
- Kendra, 6th Grade
 
"Project American Life is about learning to love yourself, others, and your country." 
- Catherine, 6th Grade
 
"I learned that I could do anything if I tried hard.  Project American Life is all about trying to do things you've never done before.  The games were fun, and they all had a lesson to them." 
- Caitlin, 6th Grade
 
"I learned that I am special and blessed.  Project American Life is helping kids grow up." 
-Madalyn, 5th Grade
 
"Project American Life is about changing yourself for the good!" 
- Allie, 5th Grade
 
"I learned I am not an island.  I will remember teamwork, quietness, and listening skills.  It is a place where kids learn the best things there are." 
- Mattie, 6th Grade
 
"I learned that humans are not mere animals.  If we think we are just animals, we'll act just like animals." 
- Caroline, 6th Grade
 
"I learned a lot about paying attention to the inside of a person instead of the outside." 
- Rachel, 5th Grade
 
"I learned that people all over the world are dying of hunger.  Now that I know, I can help do something." 
- Maggie, 5th Grade
 
"Project American Life is about the most important thing in your life, and you have lots and lots of fun, too.  The most important thing I learned was that love, character, and wisdom are more important than anything." 
- Nicki, 6th Grade
 
"I learned to be thankful for your life, and don't waste it.  We are very fortunate." 
- Shawn, 5th Grade
 
"Project American Life is all about life, inspiration, honor, and integrity." 
- Robert. 5th Grade
 
"Project American Life is about showing kids that just because they are little and young doesn't mean that they can't help our community." 
- Antonio, 5th Grade
 
"Project American Life taught me to never give up." 
- Jasmine, 5th Grade
 
"The most important thing I learned this week is to be all that you can be.  My counselor didn't let us give up." 
- Melissa, 6th Grade
 
"In Search of America was so intense.  It helped me understand how fortunate I am.  It'll help me be a better person." 
- Emily, 6th Grade
 
"Project American Life is about Life, Compassion, and Responsibility.  I learned that I might have to give up all that I have to stand up for what is right." 
- Kayla, 6th grade
 
"Project American Life is about learning how to live your life -- being careful and making the right choices.  I also think that Project American Life teaches us to treat people right -- just as we would want to be treated." 
- Alex, 6th Grade
 
"I think Project American Life is about learning what is and isn't important and to do the right thing." 
- Lauren, 6th Grade
 
"Project American Life is learning about Life and how much it is worth." 
- B.J., 6th Grade
 
"Project American Life is about learning important values in a fun way.  I loved playing In Search of America!  It had all the thrill of a roller coaster but was totally safe."  
- Lillian, 6th Grade
 
"The most important things I learned this week were compassion for others and that I AM HUMAN!  It's important because it showed me what I am." 
- Ginny, 6th Grade
 
"The most important thing I learned this week was that all people are Created equal because that helps you remember that you are not a paper plate." 
- Frazier, 6th Grade
 
"Project American Life teaches children the meaning of life and how to experience things in a different way.  One of the things I will remember most is the guitar player who used his feet:  Tony Melendez." 
- Bradley, 6th Grade
 
"I think Project American Life is about teaching kids to think for themselves and learn things such as courage and compassion.  I will always remember the game In Search of America because it taught me compassion for others." 
- Sigourney, 5th Grade
 
“We learned to be honest and kind and to treat each other like you want to be treated.” 
- Alicia, 5th Grade
 
“Project American Life is about learning about guidelines to life.” 
- Brandon, 6th Grade
 
“I learned that I’m old enough to make big decisions.” 
- Lee, 6th Grade
 
“Project American Life is about learning about big choices that we will soon face, in an extremely fun way.” 
- Ashley, 6th Grade
 
“I think Project American Life is about teaching kids to think and have fun and just open our eyes to how we can help people who don’t have it as good as us.” 
- Eric, 6th Grade
 
“The most important thing I learned about is courage.  Without Courage, nothing is possible.” 
- Reginald, 6th Grade
 
“Project American Life is about showing you what the world is like, how you can help, and how thankful you should be to be an American.” 
- Maddy, 6th Grade
 
“Project American Life is about preserving our culture by teaching us all these things about being a good person.” 
- Jessica, 6th Grade
 
“The most important thing I learned was to treat others like you want to be treated.  Don’t judge people by the way they look.” 
- Kathryn, 6th Grade
 
“Project American Life is about finding who you are, and it’s about becoming a better person through different experiences.” 
- Jena, 6th Grade
 
“Project American Life is about teaching kids right from wrong, friendship, courage, and commitment.” 
- Kasey, 6th Grade
 
“I think that P.A.L. is about teaching us about life and to do what is right.” 
- Eric, 6th Grade
 
“The most important thing that I learned is that we are human beings and that we should do something with our life because it makes you and America better.” 
- Chase, 6th Grade
 
“I think Project American Life is about learning about life, and really that you are not too young to make a difference.” 
- Katie, 6th Grade
 
“I learned that when you are nice to someone, even if they aren’t nice back, your kindness was not wasted.  It is important because I will use it everyday.” 
- Mallory, 6th Grade
 
“The most important thing I learned was to let my light shine.  It’s important because I can change the world if I do.” 
- Geoffrey, 6th Grade
 
“Project American Life is about courage.  It shows how we have such a great country, and we need to appreciate that.” 
- Chase, 6th Grade

Long Lasting Effects

Thoughts of Teachers and Parents:

"Project American Life is the ultimate in providing citizenship training.  It instills in students the 'strong' desire to care for each other and our country, the U.S.A.!   It is the most important thing (experience) I can offer my students as it will help them preserve our country's founding principles and lead lives of worth."  
- Penny Shell, Teacher, Whitesburg Middle School
 
"This is the most valuable experience that can be provided to middle school students.  We'll see some short-term effects at school immediately.  It is the long term "standards" for personal growth that I value most about Project American Life for my kids." 
- Major Gary R. Leopold, Teacher, Academy for Arts and Academics
 
"This is an exceptional program of remarkable value.  To instill in children the concept that they can and should lead a meaningful life is beautiful.  Life is a precious gift, to be lived with purpose.  Those who have grasped, or at least started on the road to grasping this, are headed toward a fantastic journey of life.  I teared up on several occasions, moved by the power of the concepts described to the children.  To present such ideals to children at their age has, indeed, the potential to change the world.  I leave the program with a renewed sense of purpose in my own life." 
- Steve O'Dell, Parent, Whitesburg Middle School
 
"Every child in America needs to see and understand the principals highlighted in this program!" 
- J. Michael Cole, Parent, Whitesburg Middle School
 
"I hope that the program takes hold at many other facilities.  I plan to be back in two years with my younger children." 
- Thomas Leiner, Parent, Whitesburg Middle School
 
"Children will, of course, remember the games, songs, and laughter but most importantly, the heart and soul of each child has been touched in such a way that they will "see" our world differently.  In fact, most of them will "see" for the first time.  God is obviously working miracles through this program. Thank you." 
- Jill Powell, Teacher, Morris Elementary
 
"I believe Project American Life is a wonderful program.  It should be mandatory for all 6th graders.  It is the best field trip experience ever! Period." 
- John Batte, Parent, Mt. Gap Middle
 
"Project American Life has made a difference in my life -- I feel renewed and excited about my involvement with children.  I have always rejoiced in the "wonder" of children and wanted to open doors to areas where they could explore and experience the wonder of the physical earth and ideas.  Project American Life's staff and program did this for these fifth graders as I watched in awe and wonder!" 
- Myrna Miller, Teacher, Chapman Elementary
 
"Project American Life is a bonding for students and teachers that lasts forever.  Students leave with a deeper appreciation of their fellow man -- past, present, and future." 
- Carole Arszman, Teacher, Academy for Arts and Academics
 
"Some of the children came from deprived environments where love and caring for the individual are not present.  For a few short days, these children were part of a caring, loving family.  It may change their lives." 
- Charlotte Draper, Principal, Thompson Elementary
 
"Project American Life is an excellent program in all areas.  We wish it could be provided to as many students as possible.  Since funds are a problem for many, we will be working to find funding sources." 
- Carol Gaines, Guidance Counselor, Mt. Gap Middle
 
"My own children have been fortunate enough to participate in this program.  Initially, the most obvious effect is the bonding achieved with fellow classmates.  A lasting effect is the definite and clear-cut sense of responsibility they have for who and what they are and will become in the future." 
- Ana Mari Cadilla, Teacher, Mt. Gap Middle
 
"I believe that this will be something they will never forget.  Project American Life is an excellent hands-on, minds-on learning experience -- one that I wish every child had the chance to take part in." 
- Biddie Banks, Teacher, Mt. Gap Middle
 
"I believe the long-term effect is that we all leave with a much greater appreciation of the freedoms, opportunities, and responsibilities that we have as Americans." 
- Linda Warren, Teacher, Mt. Gap Middle
 
"Someday, down the road of life, a student will make a decision, an important decision, that was "seeded" by Project American Life.  Please, Please, PLEASE continue this program in some way, shape, or form!" 
- Benjamin Hicks, Teacher, Williams Tech
 
"I think the children will be inspired to evaluate the choices they make more carefully and will also be encouraged that they can make a difference.  The children were constantly told that they were important, that they were valued and loved as individuals." 
- Jonathan Kirby, Parent, Chapman Elementary
 
"From 0 - 10 rating, I would give the program 15 to 20.  In my estimation it was excellent because it exposed the children to values and principles that will help them make the best choices as they progress through life and especially as they return to the school and interact with one another." 
- Ms. Alvena Crump, Grandmother and Retired Teacher, Morris Elementary
 
"The long lasting effects on the children will be the heightened awareness of their value as human beings, the value of being an American, and the value of pursuing truth and dreams." 
- Thomas Parker, Parent, Chapman Elementary
 
"I believe the children will be more able to apply government styles / concepts to real-life situations.  I hope the lessons on compassion and perseverance will continue forever!" 
- Beth Bates, Teacher, Tuscaloosa Middle
 
"Project American Life was more than I ever expected.  I love the program; I see major changes in the kids and in my own life.  I would give the program a 100 overall as it was perfect." 
- Michael A. Pryor, Teacher, Hampton Cove Middle School
 
"My favorite experience at Project American Life was seeing the children's faces-their emotions, moments of understanding, triumph, joy, trepidation, confidence, uncertainty, and exuberance. Their faces said even more than some of their very insightful statements!" 
- Myrna Miller, Teacher, Chapman Elementary
 
"As both of my children have been through this program, I know that after Project American Life, they retain an important sense of who they are and who they want to become in terms of the community, neighborhood, and this great country we live in." 
- Ana Mari Cadilla, Teacher, Mt. Gap Middle School
 
"The lasting value of Project American Life is the hands-on experience.  The students didn't just read and talk about something.  They were involved and directly affected.  It is of special importance because it was hands-on.  They won't forget it." 
- Gloria Williams, Parent, Eastwood Middle School
 
"I most value the reminder of who I am and what I stand for.  As adults, we tend to get caught up in life and forget to actually live.  True living means so much more than simply going off to work, eating, sleeping, etc.   Project American Life is a much-needed reminder for me personally.  I walk away feeling blessed and recharged." 
- Jayme Mothershed, Teacher, Mt. Gap Middle School
 
"Project American Life is a great program.  I hope the things the kids learned this week were life-changing experiences for them.  I hope they are more compassionate about life and want to make a difference.  I believe they will!  Thanks a million Project American Life!" 
- Mary Ann Walker, Parent, Eastwood Middle School
 
"I believe the lasting value of Project American Life for our young people is a life-long remembrance of "the picture they paint" with their every action.  They realize that they are responsible for their actions and their reactions in life." 
- Annie Cheatham, Teacher, Mt. Gap Middle School
 
"Project American Life is an amazing, gripping, life-changing, charismatic program -- like witnessing our country's birth and evolution in three days.  P.A.L.'s lasting value is that it reminds me of my country's goals and history and of the sacrifices so many people have made and make to prove their love for and pride in this country." 
- Rebecca Podolski, Teacher, Highlands Elementary School
 
"Project American Life has been one of the most enjoyable experiences I have had the opportunity to be a part of.  It was GREAT!"  The lasting value of Project American Life is an appreciation of the importance of freedom and those who fought so hard for it, and those who are still fighting at this moment.  We live in a land like no other and you reminded us of that.  Continue to provide children with the knowledge of where they come from, who they are and what they are." 
- Belissa G. Howard, Teacher, Highlands Elementary School
 
"Project American Life is the one experience that I truly feel every child in America should experience.  I will hold most special the real life simulations - they are awesome! The cause of the program is awesome.  It is much needed in today's society." 
- Shirley T. Jones, Teacher, Highlands Elementary School
 
"I am hoping the children have gained a real value of being an American and understanding how very fortunate they are.  This should be of special importance since most of them have missed or never been exposed to these values and the importance of each.  Once again, I have found this program exceptional.  The message is loud and clear with such a creative presentation." 
- Lynn Kerkoff, Teacher, Highlands Elementary School
 
"This program is very educational.  It makes the children think about other things than just themselves.  I will hold most special that Project American Life instills something in children that they don't receive everyday -- love for country and American history.  The lasting value of Project American Life is an understanding that we live the way millions of people around the world want to live.  We need to value our freedom every day and take nothing for granted." 
- Charles Mason, Parent, Highlands Elementary School
 
"Incredible!  Everyone should be exposed to this program no matter the age.  This program can't be done enough.  I hope it will always be available." 
- Cathy Maner, Teacher, Whitesburg Middle School
 
“I think every child should get this experience because it changes their lives forever.” 
- Andy Chaffin, Teacher, Whitesburg Middle School
 
“They learn lessons that they can apply to situations throughout their lives – compassion, to be proud of their country, to understand / relate to others around the world who are less fortunate, to have an understanding of what some people have gone through or currently go through for freedom – something that they take for granted everyday.” 
- Lisa Davis, Teacher, Providence and Morris Elementary Schools
 
“Project American Life is unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed.  It touches on every aspect of life.  Very well thought of and thought out program.” 
- Reginald Smith, Parent, Providence and Morris Elementary Schools
 
“My child has been taught that right principles work, and wrong ones don’t work.  If that were all she learned, it would give her almost all she needs in life.  Of course, she learned much more as well.” 
- Kim Reddock, Parent, Eastwood and Tuscaloosa Middle Schools
 
“As usual, this program continues to amaze me with its capability to reach out to out students and teach them such wonderful values (compassion, courage, etc.)  Our kids will appreciate the life they have and the gifts and blessings they have been given.” 
- David Merzbacher, Teacher, Eastwood and Tuscaloosa Middle Schools

Thoughts of Students:

"Project American Life is about teaching children from all over about our history and all the things that are happening in the world right now and that you can help, and that you can make a difference in the world." 
- Natalie, 6th Grade
 
"The most important thing this week was finding out I have a purpose in life because that purpose might help the world." 
- Karly, 6th Grade
 
"The most important thing that I learned was that I have a purpose.  It is important because I didn't think that I had a purpose." 
- Chris, 6th Grade
 
"The most important thing I learned is that I am living in an almost perfect country and still I am not happy.  I learned to be happier, and now I am." 
- Zuzia, 6th Grade
 
"I learned that I can do anything.  I can accomplish my dreams, and I am starting now.  I will remember the songs we sang, the games we played, and the things we talked about, which will always, always stay with me.  I would like to thank everybody, because this is a trip that has changed my life." 
- Ashley
 
"I have learned so much about The Declaration.  I will become President." 
- Cole, 6th Grade
 
"Project American Life is learning to be the best you can be -- taking each moment one by one." 
- Emily, 5th Grade
 
"The most important thing I learned is that I have a point in life.  I also learned who I am, that love is better than anything, and that God is always with me.  Project American Life is about LIFE!" 
- John, 6th Grade
 
"Project American Life is about our lives:  who we are, what we are, where we are, and why we are." 
- Sara, 7th Grade
 
"Project American Life is all about preparing kids for the world ahead of them.  Project American Life teaches us to do something with our lives." 
- Paige, 6th Grade
 
"It's about life! -- how to appreciate it, and how to live it to it's fullest." 
- Teela, 7th Grade
 
"Project American Life is about learning things that should stick with you for the rest of your life." 
- Lauren, 6th Grade
 
"I learned that I am not a paper plate.  I am fine china.  I learned that others are fine china, too." 
- Jenny, 6th Grade
 
"The three things I will most remember are love, character, and wisdom.  Project American Life is about experiencing these things.  I never knew how important life is.  Thank you." 
- Adam, 6th Grade
 
"Before I came to Project American Life, I thought I was nothing.  Now I know that I am somebody special and that I live in a great country." 
- Austin, 6th Grade
 
"I learned who I am -- this can help me make something of my life and have self-confidence.  Project American Life lets kids see that someone cares about them and that they have a purpose." 
- Katie, 6th Grade
 
"My best experience at Project American Life is everything.  It helps people learn how important Life is and not to take things for granted.  It helps people get a good start in life." 
- Pettus, 6th Grade
 
"In Search of America was so real -- it was an exciting adventure. I learned that I could achieve my greatest dreams no matter what." 
- Jennifer, 6th Grade
 
"Project American Life helped me to figure out what life is really about."
- Jacob, 6th Grade
 
"Project American Life is about learning to live life to its fullest and to dream." 
- Koury, 6th Grade
 
"The most important thing I learned this week was to not treat myself like a paper plate." 
- Jay, 6th Grade
 
"The purpose of Project American Life is to help people realize what is going on in the world and that you can do something to change it." 
- Melissa, 5th Grade
 
"I've learned that I am so fortunate to live in a place where I can be free with responsibility." 
- Kurtis, 6th Grade
 
"The most important thing that I learned this week is that you can follow your dreams and the only thing stopping you is yourself." 
- Luke, 6th Grade
 
"Project American Life is amazing, awesome, and the best camp that was ever made." 
- Melody, 6th Grade
 
"I would describe Project American Life in one word as inspiring and fun (okay, maybe two)." 
- Samantha, 6th Grade
 
"The most important thing I learned is that I am worth something." 
- Joyce, 6th Grade
 
"Project American Life is a foundation for your life." 
- Michael, 6th Grade
 
"I will remember most the passionate and in-depth talks we participated in.  They were one word:  inspiring.  The most important thing that I learned is that we live a life so wonderful and beautiful -- the American life.  It made me very grateful and to thank the Lord that I live in America.  We have the opportunity to make this world a better place and create and do beautiful things." 
- Theresa, 7th Grade
 
"This has brought me to who I really am.  Project American Life is about bringing you to yourself and showing who and what you really are.  My best experience at Project American Life was In Search of America.  It showed us what people went through and are still going through right now.  It showed us that we are blessed with what we have." 
- Shelby, 7th Grade
 
“Project American Life is about why you’re on earth and your purpose.” 
- Alan, 6th Grade
 
“The most important think I learned is to cherish what I have.  It taught me to be thankful and that is going to change my life.” 
- Alyssa, 6th Grade
 
“The most important thing I learned was that there are people with disabilities that we could never dream of that can do things better than us – even play the guitar with their feet.” 
- Melissa, 6th Grade
 
“Project American Life is about learning about all of the things people did for us, and how we should inspire others.” 
- Cammie, 6th Grade
 
“The most important thing I learned about this week was courage.  It’s important because if you don’t have courage you slither like a snake.” 
- Collin, 6th Grade
 
“The most important thing I learned this week is about being a light in the world.  It is important because even though our world is dark, we can make a difference.  We can shine light all around us if we try.” 
- Sarah, 6th Grade
 
“The most important thing I learned this week was bravery and taking the right path.  I learned that you should not commit suicide even if you have a rough life.  It is important for me to know because life is tough.” 
- Chris, 6th Grade
 
“The most important thing I learned this week was to make the right choices.  I will always remember.” 
- Erik, 5th Grade
 
“The most important thing I learned this week was to do to others as you would want them to do to you.” 
- Destiny, 5th Grade
 
“The most important thing I learned about week was courage.  It’s important because I learned to face my fears.” 
- Burke, 5th Grade
 
“This week I learned that I need to be thankful for my good food, clean water, warm clothes, and beds that other people around the world don’t have.”  
- Lauren, 6th Grade

Letters from Students

Dear Project American Life Staff...
 
“I wish I could have stayed longer so I would be able to learn without being stuck inside a classroom—learning from letters instead of voice and heart.  I will remember virtually everything from this trip as if my mind had been a video camera taping, and now looking back on a TV.  I’ve learned so much that I feel that a gift has been granted to me, something I cannot lose or forget.  I have new meaning to my life.  I know that I should live life to the fullest and not waste such a precious thing.  Thank you for this experience.  Thank you for my gift.  With love and compassion,” -Isabel
 
“Thank you for having us at Project American Life!  My favorite activity was In Search of America.  It was so real, and I feel sorry for the people of Berlin who had to live this way everyday.  But now the wall is demolished!  Thanks for sharing all of life’s secrets with us and for showing us how to reach from the valley to the mountaintop and showing us how to become all we can be.  I would also like to thank you for pointing us in the right direction and for showing us how to reach our goals.  It’s a long journey, and we don’t know what awaits us.  That is something you can’t teach us.  We have to find out on our own but once we get there, we will know what to do.  You’ve inspired deeply.  I wish I could pay you back but remember, once Judgment Day comes, you shall have your eternal reward.  May God be with you because it is “In God We Trust.”  Sincerely,”  -Robert
 
“I just wanted to write to you to say thank you for all the amazing things that you’ve taught me.  You taught me that I should appreciate the things that I have.  I also learned why it is important to honor our country and our freedom.  A lot of our fellow Americans risked their lives and even died just so we can be free.  To me, that is a true American.  Also, today a lot of our fellow Americans must protect our country once again because of the terrorists.  Now, I understand why we should respect our country.  Thank you so much for showing me the way.  Sincerely,” -Whitney
 
“How are you doing?  Thanks for everything.  I really enjoyed Project American Life a lot!  It’s not every day that you can take a field trip like that!  It taught me a lot more than there’s something else than cereal for breakfast!  It taught me to be thankful for what I have and not just wait for life to come to you but to grasp life with your hands.  Once you have it in your hands, don’t let go until you’ve made the best out of life. You all helped me realize that I may be smart but if I mess up my life, I’ll be stuck in a garbage can somewhere.  If I do my best though, I can soar to greatness.  Please write me back!  Come see us!  Your friend,” -Shawn
 
“My daughter (Amber) has asked that I email you.  She has tried to phone you (she kept your cell phone number) several times, but cannot reach you.  I have heard nothing but how much she misses you since she left Project American Life three weeks ago.  I don’t know what you did that she became so attached to you within a four-day period, but I want to let you know that I greatly appreciate your kindness to my daughter.  I know that she will never forget you.  It’s amazing how sometimes we touch people’s lives so deeply without ever knowing.  Thank you so much.
 Kindest regards,” -Sharon
 
“I would like to say thank you for all the things that the crew has done for me.  I would like to give a special thanks to Jamie for making things clearer to me about life.  I really do thank all of you for helping me.”  -Greg
 
“Thank you for helping me learn so much about myself.  Before I came I thought I was just my name—another face in the crowd.  But after I was there, I learned that I’m a special person—my own special self—and no one can take this away from me.
 Sincerely,” -Nathan
 
“What’s up?  I wish I was there now!  I miss that place soooo much, but mostly you guys!!!  I really had a great time!  I sung the songs on the bus.  When I started singing, everyone else did, too.  I still remember:  “Take bread 4 the journey and strength 4 the fight, comfort to sleep through the night, wisdom to choose at the fork in the road, and the heart that knows the way home.  Go in peace, live in grace, trust in the arms that will hold you.  Go in peace, live in grace, trust in love.”  Thanks 4 everything you taught me and for everything you did and gave to me.  If you can, will you send me a picture of all of you guys so I can make copies and give them to people?  Please write back cause I really miss you!”  -Lyndsey
 
“I would just like to thank you for two heart-filling trips and experiences.  Just coming to this camp taught me about being a free American.  I also learned about myself, about who I really am.  Project American Life has changed me so much that I wish I never left.  It was the best feeling in my life!  Some of my greatest memories are there.  When I was leaving from that beautiful place it made me cry on the inside, and it probably will make me cry on the outside after I’m finished with this letter.  Thanks Project American Life.  Love,”  -Katrina
 
“Thank you for offering this trip to our school.  I had a lot of fun, and I also learned a lot.  I’m proud to be an American because so many men and women died for people they didn’t even know.  Thank you for making this camp happen.  You could be anywhere else in the world, but you’re there.  Project American Life is truly the best camp in the world!  Thank you.  Love from,” -Andrea
 
“I just wanted to drop you a few lines of thanks!  I really had to use my brain because you challenged me to do things I would have never thought of.  The people in my group are the best of friends now.  When I got back to school, I remembered what Jamie said, to try to paint that pretty picture and put the painting on a strong foundation.  Now when a teacher or an adult tells me to do something, I don’t just do it—I do it the best I know how. Love,”  -Stephani
 
“Thank you for a great time last week.  My father is in the army, so I have grown up with my dad telling me about America and our Independence.  I thought it was something small, but you guys showed me that it is very big and important.  The experience that I will never forget is when we played In Search of America.  I have never been so happy to see the American flag than I was that night!  Thank you again for teaching me the real meaning of being an American.  God bless you all!
Sincerely,” -Amanda
 
“I just want to say a quick thank you for being such a good counselor to me.  I want to thank you for teaching me that nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it and for teaching me about the light in me growing bigger if I make the right choices.  Thanks for everything.  Love your favorite fan,”  -Ryan
 
“I had a great time at Project American Life!  I learned so much there and loved all of it.  This was a different camp from any other camp I have been to!  It was so much more exciting and interesting.  You have a great voice!  Everyday, I have those songs in my head.  Right when I got home, I started listening to the song, “To Annie.”  When I got home, I had already started missing camp a whole lot and all of the counselors.  I will always remember this camp.  My favorite thing we did was when we acted like there was a Berlin Wall!  That felt so real!  I think you should never close this camp down!  Thank you!  Sincerely,” -Alex
 
“Project American Life was the greatest experience of my life!  Please don’t ever forget me.  I really do love you with all of my heart.   Your friend,”  -Laura
 
“I would like to say thank you for the most wonderful experience ever.  To Doug and Jamie, you guys were more like fathers to me in just four days!  We all hope we will touch many lives as you guys taught us to!  So many happy, warm wishes to you, and keep touching lives, one at a time!   Love and yours truly,”  -Karris
 
“I had always wanted to be an astronaut before, but now I want to be a counselor.  I want to help kids learn about true stories and to teach them to appreciate what we have.  I think Project American Life was the most interesting thing I have ever been to.  I cannot show you how much I appreciate you.  I hope I can grow up and be just like you, except in my own individual way.   Thank you,”  -Laura
 
“I really enjoyed the In Search of America simulation.  It was a great experience and made me realize that I should be more grateful to the people who died for our freedom.  You made Project American Life a wonderful experience for me!  Your pal,”  -Charlie
 
“I enjoyed Project American Life a lot!  I enjoyed all of the events like the night hike, team initiatives, In Search of America, and Brainiac.  I’m glad you were my leader, and I’m glad I got to go.  Some people cried because they didn’t want to leave.  I didn’t because I knew it wasn’t goodbye.  I knew I would come back some day.  I miss all of you and can’t wait to see you all again.  I’ll make today, Friday, the dash between the two numbers.  Sincerely,”  -Vanessa
 
“Thank you for spending time with us and teaching us the way of life.  I really liked your sense of humor!  My favorite thing that we did was In Search of America.  It really taught me to appreciate everything I have and to treasure life’s moments because you never know where you’ll be swept off to.  The Caste System also taught me something.  It taught me to treat other people the way I want to be treated and never act like you’re better than someone else.  Sincerely,” -Robert

Letters from Teachers…

“The bus ride home will hold a special place in my heart.  I have never seen so many children cry—not just sniffles!  Oh no!  Big tears rolling down their faces.  I looked back at them, saw their faces and heard their sobs, so naturally I began to cry with them.  Then Amy looked at me, and she began crying.  Luckily, I had a box of Kleenex, which I just continued passing over my head.  The point of this story is to once again reemphasize what a special program you have.  When my toughest student can write, “We love you,” at the end of his letters, I know you have succeeded in changing his life forever.  Thank you,”  -Jill Powell, Morris Elementary
 
“There is no conceivable way that I could ever adequately express to you my gratitude.  I can never remember encountering a group more willing than yours to give of themselves.  I do not use the word “give” lightly.  The depth of your commitment to our country and to young people reveals your total commitment to God, our Creator.  Don’t give up!  God has bestowed on you an incredible gift.  He has worked miracles in getting us here and in us this week.  Just as each student now realizes a purpose in life, God will provide the means for you to fulfill yours.  I pledge you my support for Project American Life. You will continue to be in my prayers, but I also will actively seek financial support for your program.  We will stay in touch.  God bless you and all your staff.  With sincere gratitude,”  -Sandra Montgomery, Academy for Science and Foreign Language

Letters to United States Senator Jeff Sessions

“Dear Senator Sessions,  I am writing to you about my trip to Project American Life.  I went when I was in fifth grade.   I am now in eighth grade, and I want to tell you that Project American Life is the trip I remember most of all about elementary school.  The whole experience was great.  While we were there, we learned so much about life.  We learned to trust each other by playing games and having to rely on each other.  Looking back, I realize that what I learned there changed the way I viewed my classmates and people of other social classes.  Even though we are all different, we are all still the same—Americans.  Another thing that really made a difference for me was that I became much more aware of other people’s feelings.  In order to get along in our society, we all have to be able to get along and respect each other.  I also became more interested in learning about our government and how it works.  I think, though, that the most important thing I left with was that we must all have faith.  We have to have faith in our government and in each other.  The people who wrote the Constitution had faith in God and our form of government.  If you can find some money to help more kids get to go to Project American Life that would be fantastic!  I am saving my money to help send someone next year.  I am also trying to get my church to sponsor a child.  Sincerely,”  -Jason
 
“Dear Senator Sessions,  I went to Project American Life when I was in the fifth grade.  I don’t remember much about the fifth grade now, but I do remember Project American Life.  I had no idea that this one trip would change my life the way it has.  I got a new perspective on the world around me, and a new way to think.  The little things count to me now.  I care more for others and am content with what I’ve been given.  It’s amazing how I felt when I left Project American Life!  I was so sad to go, but I felt like a new person—clean and pure.  I don’t have a lot; my family’s not rich.  I may not eat gourmet meals every night, but I’m thankful for what I have.  Some people have only a spoonful of rice to sustain them through a day of plowing and hard labor.  I seldom complain anymore.  It makes you look foolish.  I relive my trip to Project American Life over and over again each day.  In that place where the only light at night was the stars’, I found me—a me that was born there and that has been growing ever since.  I’m in the tenth grade now, and I’ve gone through quite a bit.  But the lessons I learned at Project American Life are the reason I enjoy living so much!”  -Sharea
 
“Dear Senator Sessions,  I am a middle school gifted education teacher with the Tuscaloosa City Schools.  I have been privileged to take 6th grade students to Project American Life for three of the four years I have been teaching within this system.  This program is unequivocally the one thing I find the students remember most from their 6th grade year.  Each year my 7th and 8th grade students ask if they can go back to Project American Life!  This program is not just fun and games, though there is a lot of that; it is fun and games with a purpose.  Each activity is designed to teach an underlying principle that is the basis of our democratic society.  For example, before students even get off the bus they are assigned a “caste” designation.  Their position within the caste system determines how they will be treated and how they treat others.  The students either find this very empowering or very frustrating.  After just a few hours of this separation, the students seem ready to discuss other possible ways of governing themselves!  The other thing I find most impressive about the program is that develops in the students’ a sense of gratefulness.  We live in a nation that has been blessed-financially, democratically, materially, and politically.  We tend to take these blessings for granted because it is all we have ever known.  I find that Project American Life opens students’ eyes to the many advantages we have as citizens of the United States and creates a sense of thankfulness.  Project American Life also allows the students to see it is their responsibility to make sure these freedoms endure.  I would welcome the opportunity to speak with you further regarding the benefits of Project American Life.  I have a whole scrapbook of photos I could share with you!  I hope you will give the Project American Life program your support.  Sincerely,”  Minda T. Paxton, Gifted Education Teacher, Tuscaloosa City Schools