Thirty exceptional students from the Mount Vernon City School District recently took part in a field trip to the African American Burial Grounds and Federal Hall in New York City. The students were selected based on their ability to exhibit civility and compassion while persevering towards academic success. The participants, who are in grades 6-8, represented elementary and middle schools in the district.
The two historical locations visited allowed for students to learn about an important aspect of New York's history and the significance of the burial grounds to African American culture. Students were able to use their prior knowledge of content learned in their Social Studies curricula to make connections to text and self.
“This field trip exposed student to the cultural relevance of the African American in New York's history and how events which have taken place in New York shaped the nation,” said Rachel E. DePaul, Assistant Director of Special Education, Student Support Services.
The students’ first stop, the African American Burial Grounds provided the students with media rich resources featuring reenactments of the lives of slaves in New Amsterdam and the importance of the burial ceremony in African culture.
“The students watched clips from live broadcasts showing the community's reaction and movement to ensure that the sacred ground was preserved through advocacy efforts of local community organizations, said DePaul. “Students were able to view the burial grounds plot layouts which included descriptions of the bodies interred there over 200 years ago.”
The visit to Federal Hall allowed for students to hear about the history and significance of the building through interactive activities and narration by a National Parks Service Ranger.
“The students were engaged during the tours and asked meaningful questions,” said DePaul. “Many were unaware of the quality of life that slaves endured during that era.”
Floyd Myers of the National Parks Service sponsored the trip and rolled out the red carpet for the representatives of his hometown. Due to his generosity, students were able to make the visit with no cost to their families or the district.