GULFPORT -- Kevin Boone wanted to take his ninth-grade students from Salmen High in Slidell to the National WWII Museum in New Orleans last spring, but he realized they didn't know much about the war.
Boone, who lives in Gulfport, decided the students would get more out of the field trip if they knew what happened in World War II and the history behind it.
"I hated to bring the students there without them having any background," Boone said. "It was spring, and they were tired of testing, so we did a fun learning game, and they researched most of the events of the war."
He decided a board game, such as Monopoly with a WWII theme, would be the best way to get the students interested and help them remember the facts.
Boone searched the Internet for such a game but couldn't find one, so he and his students created their own. He had five classes, and each created a version. The classes played each other's games rather than taking a written test.
The field trip was a success, Boone said, and he felt his students got more out of the experience than if they hadn't studied WWII.
Now, six months later, Boone and his students will go to the museum for the unveiling of Monopoly: America's WWII: We're All in This Together.
There will be a special ceremony Thursday, and Boone will receive the first official game.
Getting startedBoone discussed the project with Chris Michel, director of retail services for the WWII Museum when the students went on the field trip, and Michel was interested immediately.
Michel had been talking about developing such a game with a company called USA-opoly, which is authorized by Hasbro Inc.
"We had talked about doing something at some point, but we had never moved it forward," Michel said. "Kevin was trying to generate the interest, and that was inspiring to me.
"A few weeks later, Michel went to New York, met with officials at the game company and pitched the idea."From there it took off into this major project," he said.
Developing the game
Boone brought Michel all the variations of the WWII game the students created, but the company was specific about some aspects. For example, the four corners must remain constant in all MONOPOLY games: Jail, free parking, collect $200 and go to jail.
Most of the rest, though, has a WWII theme. The game pieces are an airplane, combat boots, helmet, radio, ship and Sherman tank. Spaces on the board and corresponding deed cards feature significant WWII events. Railroads are replaced with supply routes, and houses and hotels became camps and headquarters.
The "Chance" and "Community Chest" cards are replaced with cards for allies and home front.
"It's so much more than a game," Michel said. "We need to keep young people today educated about World War II."The education department at the museum developed supplemental information for the cards and the properties, which also is on the website.
"We decided to format it historically, so as you move through the game, you're going through the timeline of America's involvement in the war," said Walt Burgoyne, education program coordinator. "It's not an in-depth teaching tool on the war, but it's a way to get some quick facts and have some family fun."
The game is for sale at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans or through its website. Michel said it also is available at other museums across the country. It soon will be available at select Wal-Mart stores in Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.Michel said the sales will determine if the WWII Monopoly game would be sold across the country.
He added Boone didn't want acknowledgement just for himself on the game. He wants to share it with Salmen High and the museum."His enthusiasm is what caused me to go forward with this project," Michel said. "It has allowed us to educate students and honor veterans."