NEW BRITAIN- A group of New Britain High School students toured the New England Air Museum (NEAM) recently to study aviation history. They visited the permanent exhibit honoring the Kościuszko Squadron pilots who fought valiantly during the Battle of Britain.
“This was a very exciting trip in many ways,” said Iwona Hayes, NBHS teacher. “For most of our students, it was their first field trip since the Pandemic.”
Hayes along with two other NBHS teacher Basia Maselek and Andy Zematitis coordinated the visit with NEAM docents Al Chwalek and Carl Cruff who explained the squadron’s contributions to both World War histories.
“The history of the Kosciuszko Squadron is a perfect example of bravery, honor and fight for freedom together with other countries that share the same ideals,” said Renata Vickrey, CCSU librarian and archivist, who described the print and media resources available for further study.
The Kościuszko Squadron was formed by American volunteers in 1919 and named in honor of Polish military strategist Tadeusz Kościuszko. A generation later, the world was at war again. Poland fell victim to German and Soviet aggression, and the Kościuszko Squadron, now all Polish and flying under British command, displayed unsurpassed gallantry to help the Allies gain aerial advantage, principally during the decisive 1940 Battle of Britain.
“Our partnership with CCSU resulted in a world-class, permanent exhibit honoring the Kościuszko Squadron pilots, who unfortunately are largely unknown to many Americans,” said Stephanie Abrams, NEAM Executive Director. “This partnership is also making it possible for the museum to greatly extend our educational reach.”
NEAM partnered with the Polish Studies Program at CCSU in 2021, to create a permanent multi-media exhibit paying tribute to the Kościuszko Squadron as defenders of freedom.
“The Polish Studies Program, Polish Heritage book collection and Connecticut Polish American Archives at CCSU are excellent resource for students to access and use these educational materials for their projects,” Vickrey expressed. “It is very important to engage younger generation of students in activities, where they learn about freedom and independence.”
These 37 students who took the tour participated in an educational program and project competition funded by the Polish Consulate General in New York City to promote Poland’s roles in preserving its freedom. Among others, project themes may include Kościuszko’s contributions to the American Revolution, the squadron’s successes in air warfare, and Poland’s current efforts to support Ukrainian refugees.
“This type of Interactive experience is invaluable for our students,” Hayes exclaimed. “Continued collaboration between NBHS, CCSU and the New England Air Museum will be of great benefit to our students as well as our community.”
Ciara Hooks can be reached at email@example.com