By Georgia Chehade.
In Humanities, 6th-grade students have been researching a Washington State History topic since October, a project culminating in a website that students shared with the WSA community on Monday, April 18th. The Extended Research Project (ERP) is a long-standing WSA tradition that guides students through many of the skills they will need in the years to come at WSA. Something students find challenging but also come to value is the process of finding and critically analyzing primary sources. This process allows them to see that history is created from many perspectives – perspectives that need to be uncovered, analyzed, and interpreted in order for them to fit into the larger picture.
Their nuanced understanding and deep thinking shone through while they presented their websites and answered questions while engaging in discussion afterward with upper schoolers and faculty.
In Washington State History, 6th and 7th-grade students have been studying WWII and the social, political, and economic impacts the war had on Washington state. One of the most important social impacts that we explored is the fact that Japanese people were forcibly removed from their homes by the federal government and sent to stay in internment camps during the war. This historical event has a unique connection to our own community, as Bainbridge Island has been home to Japanese people for over a century. As a part of this unit, we visited the Japanese Exclusion Memorial on Bainbridge Island, where students were able to engage with a woman who experienced the removal firsthand as a child.
Her story brought history to life in a way that reading about this topic could not. As students walked the same path that Japanese Americans walked when they were forced from their homes, we interacted with the memorial in a way that helped us not only learn about the history intellectually but also feel what had happened and empathize with those who experienced it.