Middle School students recently took two field trips that continue to spark dialogue and inquiry in their Social Studies and Language Arts classes.
The 7th and 8th grades both visited the Smithsonian-affiliated Heinz History Center, which is also home to the Rauh Jewish Archives. Located in a building once used to store ice, it is one of Pittsburgh’s most interesting museums, with a collection of materials chronicling the history of western Pennsylvania from the 1700s onward. The Rauh Jewish Archives it houses are a comprehensive and growing source of information about all things Jewish that happened in the Pittsburgh area over the last 150 years or so.
The use of primary sources is a central theme in Middle School Social Studies, and this field trip made possible by chief archivist Eric Lidji was an incredible opportunity for our students to see the actual sources, not just a copy of them or an image on the screen.
Eric put together activity stations for each grade that related to some of the topics we’re covering in class, and the students spent nearly two hours doing hands-on work with an expert in the field. We had great conversations about how in history we have to study both content and context.
This year we will have our second Jewish American History Fair, and the Rauh Archives will be a fantastic resource for the students to use during their research.
Thanks to the generosity of Hallie Donner, the executive director of the Alumni Theater Company (ATC), the 8th Grade also attended a production of “Wears Your Mask?” on December 13. The show was a collaboration between the JCC Pittsburgh and ATC, which included several CDS alumni.
Seven girls co-wrote the show, exploring the themes of race, religion, and identity. Our students were mesmerized throughout the entire performance as they watched the artists express the challenges and joys of what it means to be a black or Jewish girl living in Pittsburgh in 2019.
There was so much for our students to take in during the performance, and there is no doubt that the students left with new insights into themselves and others.