Second quarter is a busy period in the Old Rochester Regional High School Social Studies Department.
Several weeks ago, students in teacher Seth Bushnell’s sections of U.S. History II took a field trip to the Edward Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate in Boston.
Opened to the public at the end of March 2015, the institute aims to introduce students to the roles the Senate plays in the government, as well as explore and encourage participation in democracy.
“As a social studies teacher, one of our responsibilities is to teach civics and ensure that students become active and knowledgeable citizens in a democracy,” said Bushnell. “The Kennedy Institute provides a tremendous opportunity for students to learn about their government hands on.”
This year, the students who went to the Kennedy Institute visited several exhibits, including visiting Senator Edward Kennedy’s office, and participated in a mock legislative session.
“We took a tour and did a mock debate based on an actual issue currently in Congress,” said junior Genevieve Grignetti. “We also tried passing a bill. It was fun. Once one person spoke, everyone else jumped in.”
“We saw what the Senator’s Office looked like and we did interactive games,” junior Mikayla Chandler added. “I learned about the many different viewpoints of the Senate, but most of it was a review of what I already knew.”
Students in the U.S. History II classes are now beginning the several-week-long journey that is their annual research paper. For some juniors, this will be their last one in their high school career.
“The research paper is the biggest skill building tool we have, and it is an important preparation for college,” Bushnell commented.
Librarian Allison Barker took the time in the classes to introduce the plethora of resources she assembled on the school’s library site to aid them in their choosing of topics and search for reliable sources. This included having every student sign up for a Boston Public Library e-card, which allows students to access more information that was previously unavailable.
Bushnell and Barker went around answering questions and further explaining specific research options, including the difference between primary and secondary sources and that changing a thesis multiple times was natural during the drafting process.
The trip was made possible through a grant from the Lighthouse Fund, which is run by the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts. The Lighthouse Fund has provided annual grants to “enrich the educational experience of students in Marion, Mattapoisett, and Rochester public schools” for the past ten years, according to their website.
By Jo Caynon