CALDWELL, NJ - Sixth graders at Grover Cleveland Middle School celebrated the school’s seventh annual Immigration Day on Friday, Jan. 25. Dressing as immigrants coming to America from throughout the world, the students experienced a full day of activities designed to help them understand the challenges inherent in the difficult journeys that their ancestors accomplished.
Begun in 2007 by Middle School teacher Mike Teshkoyan, the simulation now includes all of the sixth grade social studies teachers, including Arleen Perkins, Dana Spina and Jennifer Rego. Working alongside the other sixth grade teachers, the process creates a truly valuable and powerful experience.
Gia Maayan,Giulia Russo, and Dominique Lavalle smile big after clearing the health check station. Credit: Christine Corliss
Complementing their social studies unit “Industry Changes the Country,” the Immigration Day activities take the students from the rise of big business through the Great Migration, spanning the years from 1878 to 1920. This year, the countries represented included Ireland, Italy, Scotland, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, Great Britain and many more.
Sixth grader Stefan Kachel (a.k.a. Nicolas Galup) displays his immigration papers and identification on his way to a health check. Credit: Christine Corliss
During the morning festivities, more than 50 parents and grandparents helped by playing the roles of processors and observers.
Lauren Schaeffer poses as Heidi Bellschmitt of Germany, a pretzel maker and baker. Credit: Christine Corliss
The Statue of Liberty welcomed every student who obtained citizenship. Several students did get deported, but not for long; by the end of the simulation every child was sworn in as a citizen of the United States and signed the Oath of Loyalty.
Pierre Boucher (a.k.a. sixth grader Ryan Stevens) works his way through the citizenship process as a “neat and clean, wealthy 30 year old Banker. Credit: Christine Corliss
Afterwards, the kids feasted on international foods which they each prepared at home, representing the countries from which they emigrated. Selections included eggplant parmesan, kugel, Irish soda bread, shepherd’s pie, and many more.
Credit: Christine Corliss
For further information:
Grover Cleveland Middle School
36 Academy Road
Caldwell, NJ 07006