Titanic interest comes to life for Iola student

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March 3, 2012 - 12:00 AM

Gentry Dougherty has turned his lifelong interest in the RMS Titanic into a 7-foot homage to the sunken ocean liner.
Dougherty, a fifth-grader at Jefferson Elementary School, recently teamed with school librarian Deb Greenwall to create a large paper cutout of the Titanic, which sank in the frigid North Atlantic Ocean while on its maiden voyage 100 years ago this spring.
Dougherty’s unquenchable thirst for learning about the Titanic developed after watching the Oscar Award-winning movie about the ocean liner a few years ago.
“Ever since I was a little kid, and I was able to understand movies, Titanic has always interested me,” Dougherty said.
He talked often about the movie and other bits of Titanic history with Greenwall, which prompted her to order more books for Dougherty to read.
“He read everything we had in the library, so we ordered more,” Greenwall said.
Also helping fill in the pieces was a trip to the Titanic Museum in Branson, Mo., Dougherty said.
Armed with reams of information about Titanic, Dougherty and Greenwall decided over the Christmas break to put their knowledge into the 7-foot picture.
Each component of the two-dimensional picture is on bulletin board paper, Greenwall said.
The picture is precisely to scale, to the number and locations of permanent and collapsible lifeboats fastened to Titanic’s sides.

DOUGHERTY HOPES other classes at Jefferson learn about Titanic.
A brief conversation reveals just how well he’s mastered the topic.
Without glancing at a note, Dougherty rattled off the number of passengers aboard (more than 2,200 when the cruise ship hit an iceberg late in the evening on April 14, 1912. Of those, more than 1,500 died; only 750 survived.
Dougherty’s original plan was to surround his picture with a list of names of those who perished in the sinking.
But surrounding a picture with 1,500 names is easier said than done. He quickly realized that the list would dwarf the photo. He instead posted a list of the passengers’ names, highlighting those who survived.

TITANIC WAS doomed for a litany of reasons, Dougherty explained, from the reluctance to slow its speed through the North Atlantic to the brittle nature of the ship’s hull, which caused metal rivets to shatter upon striking the iceberg. In addition, the inadequate number of lifeboats, coupled with the fact that many were less than half full, prevented crews from saving hundreds of additional passengers, Dougherty said.
Dougherty is the son of Mike and the late Kathy Dougherty.

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