Cheers of joy came from the boat bound for Ellis Island as The Statue of Liberty came into view. The passengers? Heschel's fourth graders!
Our fourth graders recently experienced what it might have been like for the immigrants who passed through Ellis Island many years ago. The students' study of the great waves of immigration to America culminated in an Ellis Island simulation.
The students spent many weeks preparing for this journey. Through fiction and nonfiction text, video, art and song, they learned about the "push" factors that caused immigrants to leave their homes and the "pull" factors beckoning them to America. They researched the voyage and read about the challenges of adjusting to life in a new country.
With suitcases and passports in hand, the students, nervous and excited, boarded the "ship" in the Roanna Shorofsky Theater. After disembarking at Ellis Island, the "immigrants" entered the Great Hall and then passed through the medical exam, baggage inspection, and a grueling interview before finally being admitted to America. The new citizens celebrated by singing songs from the Old Country and traditional American songs.