After a semester of studying World War II from vantage points as far away as Japan and Curaçao and interviewing neighbors and family members who lived during the war, fifth-graders from the Captain Albert Stevens and Edna Drinkwater schools got a window into Belfast during the war years courtesy of Megan Pinette and George Squibb of the Belfast Historical Society and Museum.

Pinette painted a picture of a Midcoast Maine radically different from the one we know today: A German U-boat was sunk in the Gulf of Maine and two German spies came ashore on Mount Desert Island — they were later captured. There were rationing and drives for scrap iron and rubber; peach pits were collected at the Belfast Library for use in gas masks; the soldiers of Company K used the attic of the Belfast Opera House as a rifle range.

A glass cupola atop the old Republican Journal building at the corner of Main and High streets served as an observation post from which to sight enemy planes. If the planes did come, an air raid siren on City Hall would sound, in codes denoting the severity of the threat, and residents would black out their homes so as not to be seen from the air.

The air raid signals were printed in the newspaper, Pinette said, showing an example. “And after they scared you to death, they had …” she said, turning the page of a yellowed newspaper and reading, “Morale: the secret weapon that will win the war!” To this end, Pinette said, there were Victory Gardens here, as there were around the country.

The presentation was the culmination of a semester of studying World War II through literature and community resources. As part of the course, the students read five works of fiction and nonfiction, including “The Green Glass,” where an 11-year-old moves to New Mexico to live with her father who is working on the Manhattan Project. In another book, “Hana’s Suitcase,” a Japanese woman learns the story behind a suitcase that belonged to a Czech girl whose town was taken over by the Nazis during World War II.

The students also undertook an oral history project, interviewing people who were alive during the Second World War. Nolan Wood was traveling home from Florida by way of Bangor International Airport when he spotted a World War II pin on the hat of Bill Knight, one of the troop greeters featured in the film “The Way We Get By.” Wood conducted an interview on the spot, learning about Knight’s service in Egypt hauling bombs and fuel for planes, and about the shrapnel still lodged in Knight’s knee.

Taran Evans-Moran interviewed his neighbor Betty Jump, who recalled the special blackout curtains in the windows of her home to keep light from escaping and being detected by airplanes. At night, he reported, she would play with her friends outside in the moonlight, wearing a pot on her head — at her mother’s insistence — to guard against shrapnel.

“We didn’t know if we would be bombed,” said Carol Bisbee, who was interviewed by Hayden Wick and also attended the Historical Society presentation. “You have that today, but we actually practiced it. We would dive under the desks. It was quite frightening.” Bisbee lived in New York City during the war. In Wick’s interview, she spoke about her father, who was an air raid warden, about the gasoline rationing — “it didn’t really affect her as much as it did other people, because she could just take the subway instead of driving everywhere” — and about the hardest part about the war, “that so many of her friends and family were killed in battle.”

Pinette asked the students what seemed different about being at war today, to which Wood quickly replied that there is no rationing. Katy King said she thought there was more of a spirit of cooperation and that people trusted each other more then than now.

Bisbee responded. “Yes, I have seen a big difference,” she said. “I agree with you.”