Authentic Learning Opportunities
Holocaust Survivor Speaks with English and Social Studies classes at MHS
On Wednesday, November 5, seven freshman ELA and social studies classes were invited to hear Jack Trompetter speak about his experiences as a Holocaust survivor.
Trompetter spoke about how he survived by being placed with a Dutch family. He was later found at age 3 by his Jewish biological parents after they had been liberated, and didn’t know them and wasn’t able to communicate with them because he had learned a different dialect of Dutch. Trompetter also spoke about his parents and relatives’ stories as survivors, as well as the trauma all suffered; something not understood at the time as it is today.
Trompetter’s talk connected to the freshman students reading Night by Elie Wiesel, and I Promised I Would Tell by Sonia Weitz, and supported Facing History units.
ELA Freshman Classes travel to Mount Auburn Cemetery to see Our Town
On October 31, five freshman ELA classes from Medford High School traveled to Mount Auburn Cemetery to see Thornton Wilder’s play “Our Town.” The play was performed by the Underground Railway Theater (URT), a company in residence at the Central Square Theater.
The performance was the culmination of collaboration between Mount Auburn Cemetery and the URT, with funding from the Anthony J. and Mildred D. Ruggiero Memorial Trust and coordinated by Maggie Abdow, the education and development director of the Central Square Theater. MHS ELA teacher Jody Liu participated in the summer institute, where teachers were treated to lectures by local historians, a dramaturge, authors, and the arborist and groundskeeper for Mount Auburn Cemetery. As a participant in the institute, Ms. Liu was invited to bring her classes to the culminating performance by Central Square Theater’s URT free of charge, and she invited Shawn Morris and Nicole Sanford’s classes, who had also read “Our Town.”
Act I and II of the play were performed in Story Chapel at Mount Auburn, and Act III was performed on the adjoining grounds, which was apropos given that much of the act is set in a hilltop cemetery. Students were seated upon the grass and in chairs arranged in a knoll area of the cemetery, while the actors performed on the surrounding incline aligned with tombstones. The quiet and natural beauty of Mount Auburn added to the poignancy of the act.
“I didn’t pick up before on the fact that the $350 legacy Emily speaks of to Mrs. Gibbs as one of the ‘dead’was the money Mrs. Gibbs had gotten from selling her piece of furniture to take her dream trip to France—so obviously she didn’t get to do that since she had left it to Emily and George; this made me sad but realize the point of play,” said one student.
Students were also surprised by the fact that the stage manager was played by a woman, but noted that it made them think more about the role of the omniscient figure.
Bree Harvey, vice president of cemetery and visitor services, put together a scavenger hunt for students when she heard that one of the teacher objectives was to make connections to the concepts of symbolism and legacy. After the performance, Bree distributed the scavenger hunt sheets for students to find monuments or headstones with examples of symbolism such as clasped hands, a symbol of marriage, or oak leaves, which are used to symbolize a husband and father, versus ivy, used to symbolize a wife and mother.
Lovely parent chaperones Mrs. Mase, Mrs. Schreuer, Mrs. Tseng, Mrs. Barros-Correia, and Mrs. Pyburn in front of monuments surrounding the performance area (not shown, Mrs. Kadel-Garcia and Mrs. Abascal).
MHS, Fenway Park, and Elizabethan Drama
On Friday, September 19 ten students from Medford High School will be joining two of their teachers at Fenway Park for an evening of famous scenes from Shakespeare’s plays.
The Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s Shakespeare at Fenway event will include performances by Mike O’Malley (Glee, Yes Dear, Shameless), actress Kerry O’Malley (CSC’s Twelfth Night, Broadway’s Into the Woods, A&E’s Those Who Kill) and actor Neal McDonough (Suits, Desperate Housewives, Band of Brothers).
This interdisciplinary opportunity for students was made possible by Medford High School teachers Andy Milne (History) and Sarah Terranova (English).