History came to life in the last week of April as middle school students explored the Metropolitan Museum of Art, visited Philadelphia, and met with honored guests – survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. Students had the opportunity to admire ancient artwork, walk in the footsteps of our founding fathers, and look into the eyes of those who experienced history. Below are summaries of students’ unique learning experiences.
On April 29th, the sixth grade took a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art as part of our study of ancient Greece. We started the trip with lunch in the park, Olympic-style relay races, and a Simon Says game with a mythological twist. Students started noticing the Greek-inspired architecture of the museum right away. Some students pointed out the columns inside and outside the building and could identify the different types (Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian, in case you were wondering).
When we got inside the building, each group participated in a scavenger hunt. They found different sculptures and pieces of pottery, and then answered questions that made them think carefully about each artifact. When each group finished its scavenger hunt, students chose another part of the museum to visit. The Sultans of Deccan India, Arms and Armor, and the Temple of Dendur were popular choices.
Upon completing a homework assignment reflecting on their experiences, students shared their discoveries and made important connections. One student said, “A lot of the statues were made of marble, which is complex to sculpt.” Another wrote, “One interesting fact I learned about the terracotta volute-krater was that Sophilos was one of the first Greek artists to sign his work.” Some students even made connections between our unit on Egypt and the Greek artifacts they saw, noting the similarities between Egyptian and Greek sarcophagi. Many students said they are hoping to visit the museum again to explore the rest of the halls!
Beth Duffy and Danielle Pepin
On Wednesday, April 29th the seventh grade had a tremendous experience in the historical city of Philadelphia. We walked in the footsteps of our founding fathers as we experienced the sights and sounds Philadelphia!
After a rather long bus ride, we arrived in Philadelphia around 10:00am and headed right to the National Constitution Center. Inside, we saw an inspirational one-person show called “Freedom Rising,” in which we experienced the events that led up to the writing of the Constitution in a high-tech and engaging style. We then headed into the main hallway of the National Constitution Center, where we participated in interactive displays. We voted for the major issues of the day, got sworn in as President of the United States, participated on a mock jury, and saw an enormous stack of legal books that stretched from floor to ceiling! At the end of the hallway was a room called “Signers Hall.” In this room, we saw life-size bronze statues of many of the signers of the Constitution. It was awesome to compare how tall we are to how tall they were and pose for pictures with the statues. After that, we got a rare chance to see one of the original copies of the Bill of Rights, on display at the National Constitution Center for just a short time. We were stunned by how small the writing is and how old the paper looks.
After the National Constitution Center, we headed to Pat’s King of Steaks restaurant where we chowed down on some amazing Philly Cheese Steaks! For many of us, this was our first time having a cheese steak. Shouts of “these are soooo goooood” and “these are amazing!” filled the air and we definitely recommend to anyone going to Philadelphia. After lunch, we walked to Independence Hall, where we recited the first line of the Declaration of Independence from memory while looking at the very building in which these words were read for the first time ever! After that we took a short walk to the Ben Franklin Museum, where we got an in-depth look at some of the major accomplishments and inventions of Ben Franklin’s life. We really enjoyed this museum and we recommend it to anyone visiting Philadelphia. Our trip concluded with a run up the famous “Rocky Steps!” We are proud to report that every seventh grade student and all the teachers made it to the top of the stairs. Many of us thought it was going to be harder than it actually was!
This was a really good trip for the seventh grade to come together as a group and review a lot of what we have learned in American History class this year. We are thankful for this experience and for having the opportunity to experience history in the very city where so much of it was made!
John Seifert and Jenny Armstrong
On Wednesday April 29th, the eighth grade had the distinct privilege of meeting two members of Hibakusha, a group of people who survived the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Dedicated to the abolition of nuclear weapons, this group has come to the United States every five years to speak to the United Nations and to share their stories in schools. This was their last trip to the United States, and, thanks to Cecily who had met them at a peace rally the weekend before, MMFS was lucky enough to be the last school for them to visit.
Ms. Fumie Kakita, a second-generation survivor, shared her mother’s incredible story of survival as well as her commitment to ending nuclear weapons. Next Mr. Nakayama Takamitsu shared his harrowing first-hand account of the bombing as well as his life-long fight for peace and a nuclear-free world. Cecily’s mother was there to translate for him as he vividly recounted what he had witnessed on that fateful day August 9th, 1945. Several students stood up and asked questions which were then translated into Japanese. He answered their questions openly and spoke passionately about peace. There was a moment of personal connection when he mentioned traveling to Costa Rica, the only country in the world that does not have a military, and the eighth graders shared that they had been there in January. At the end of the presentation, Mr. Takamitsu came around and shook hands with each person in the room. Soon, a group of students gathered around him and began hugging him. The room was overcome with emotion and a deep sense of history and humanity. Later, he told Cecily that he had never had students show him such love and respect. It was a memorable and moving experience for everyone involved, and we are grateful to Hibakusha and Cecily for making it happen.
Margot Stein, Rosalie Osborn, and Cecily Moyer