Middle School Students Experience Ellis Island
South Orange Middle School students take a trip to Ellis Island and participate in a unique way.
This isn’t the first year that students of South Orange Middle School social studies teacher, Caroline Pew, dressed as immigrants and embarked on a journey to Ellis Island, just as many of their ancestors did, but this year the trip doubled in size as two of the sixth grade teams participated, and the students of social studies teacher Vanessa Jones-Harris also took the journey. Additionally, all of the sixth grade students at Maplewood Middle School will be going to Ellis Island within the next two weeks.
“This trip is a special one for me,” says Miss Pew, “because it is something I developed with a colleague at Maplewood Middle School years ago and we have been able to make it better every year!”
Miss Pew is known for making history come alive for her students and they get a great deal of attention from other visitors when they arrive at Ellis Island donned in turn-of-the-century immigrant clothing.
“Over a dozen tourists and teachers from other schools approached me at Ellis Island,” said Miss Pew, “and they complimented me on the idea and the creativity of the costumes as well as how well behaved our students were.”
Although some students are a bit apprehensive at first, when they see photos of former students in costume, their excitement increases and almost every one of them participates. To add to the experience, teachers and chaperones dress up as well. For Miss Pew, the students’ enthusiasm illustrates the “passion, dedication, and interest” that her students have for learning.
The Ellis Island trip was, once again, a big hit, but Miss Pew’s students have many other historical experiences to look forward to this year including working on an assembly line with a mean and greedy boss who fires workers who don’t do their job well, participating in a beatnik coffee house, and attending Boot Camp at Fort Pew to prepare for war and experience “combat” in a World War I trench.