Through a $7,290 grant from the Hipp Foundation, educators Antoinette Haines, Carmela Catizone, Matthew Testa, and Michele Smircich implemented the project that began with a comprehensive study of famous Americans, their accomplishments, their contributions to society, and their words. Students in fifth grade from both general and special education classes at Durban Avenue School in Hopatcong, Sussex County, learn about these Americans by writing reports, presenting PowerPoint presentations, and listening to their famous speeches on iPods, such as the Emancipations Proclamation, Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Chief Joseph’s “I Will Fight No More,” Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman,” and President Obama’s Inaugural Address.

Students work in small groups to create raps based on famous Americans, speeches, and documents. This portion of the project is called “Past Meets Present.” Students also work together to create board games based on what they learned.

The entire fifth grade play these games on Great American Game Day. Children produce books as a keepsake of this yearlong project. The culminating event involve students, parents, and the community participating in “A Night at the Living Museum.” Students and adults portray famous Americans to answer questions about their lives, words, and places in history. Students share their Past Meets Present CD and end the evening with their own speeches.

Students travel to Washington’s Crossing to walk in the footsteps of George Washington. The play 1776 allow students to hear the words of our forefathers. A visit from author Michael Dooling provide students with ideas and inspiration for their museum night.

For further information, contact:

Christina Gordon
School - (973) 398-8805