Challenge Coin Project Gives Students a Glimpse at History
By Chris Kulle
Are you familiar with “Challenge Coins?”
Over the past century, one of the more commonly-held notions of these coins originated during World War I. During this period, some squadrons presented members with these medallions as marks of both unity and identification. One young American soldier, having escaped German captivity (and having no other means of identification on his person), used his coin to prove to French fighters that he was an American soldier, and not a German saboteur in disguise.
Likewise, American soldiers fighting in World War II also used their coins as “bona fides” to help verify their identities. Members of the 107th Infantry Regiment used the specific details included on their coins (such as the type of metal, or the date) to help prevent infiltration into the unit.
While the original intent of and purposes for these coins have shifted over the decades, more modern (and commonly agreed upon) notions have them as tokens to be offered as a sign of respect, or in appreciation of service. These tokens can be found in all branches of the United States military, and are even found in non-military organizations such as the United States Congress. Former President Bill Clinton owns several racks of challenge coins, and many other presidents have begun to present their own coins to members of the United States Armed Forces.
With this backdrop in place, we can turn our attention to the efforts of Dr. Townsend’s seventh graders, who recently created some “coins” of their own! Using card stock in place of metal, students were asked to create their own 8-10” coin (front and back) that articulated their personal beliefs, mottos, family history, experience, hobbies, and more. While these particular challenge coins weren’t “given,” they were shared with the group, and went on to adorn the display case by one of the high school’s main entrances. Take a look at some of their great work!