By Julie Matuszewski; photos courtesy of American Academy
American Academy (AA) students got a hands-on lesson in American history. The school chose Boston as the destination for its voluntary eighth-grade trip – not only for its charm, but because the history Boston holds made it the perfect destination for these AA students to really experience American history.
The trip supported the eighth-grade Colorado Department of Education standards for social studies, which direct teachers to teach eighth-graders civics, economics, history and geography. As the students explored these subjects, they were also being taught the meaning of citizenship and, in particular, citizenship of the U.S. This trip connected AA students personally with the geography, strategies and events that helped shape our country 200 years ago.
The four-day trip was packed with several historical excursions, from the Old North Bridge then on to see the origins of the Revolutionary War to the USS Constitution, (also known as Old Ironsides), the world’s oldest commissioned naval vessel still afloat. The group was then off to the Bunker Hill Monument, where the students climbed 294 steps to the top of the monument to look over the city of Boston.
After working up an appetite, the group enjoyed lunch at Quincy Market and were then led on a guided tour of the Freedom Trail. Here they walked throughout central Boston and learned about important Revolutionary War sites like Faneuil Hall, the Boston Massacre site, King’s Chapel, Granary Burial Ground, Old State House, Paul Revere House, Boston Common, Massachusetts State House, Park Street Church, Benjamin Franklin statue and former site of Boston Latin School, Old South Meeting House and the Old North Church.
Taking a break from walking, the group took a drive to Plimoth Plantation to experience what life was like in the 17th century. Then to Plymouth Rock, the landing site of the Mayflower and founding site of the Plymouth colony. The grand finale was the tour of Fenway Park, the oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball.
There were several very special moments, but the one that stuck out the most for AA teacher Mark Leadbetter was getting to watch the Major League Baseball champs take batting practice while sitting up on the Green Monster at Fenway.
For student Caden Van Putten, his favorite part of Boston was seeing all the history it had to offer and the old-fashioned buildings. “I learned that Plymouth Rock was moved from its original location, but was used when the Pilgrims first stepped off the ships,” he stated.
According to AA middle school Principal Michelle Daley, “Learning outside of a classroom is essential for anyone. To get immersed into a lesson in the exact same location that an important historical event took place is incomparable to sitting in the classroom. Our students learned that our Boston trip wasn’t just a vacation but rather a journey back in time, and their experience will never be forgotten.”
As the students returned to their classrooms, they shared their excitement and knowledge with fellow peers. It is these experiences that make for great discussion and dialogue between students, and they continue to learn from each other well after the trip.
This year’s trip was such a huge success with the students that AA is planning on going back to Boston again next year for another lesson in American history.