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Introducing the Eighth Grade Civil Rights Trip

May 01, 2024

A letter from Gabe Burnstein, Head of School

It is not lost on me that our school logo is the globe. It is a weighty charge and fits perfectly with the last line of our mission statement, “Our graduates know themselves, understand others, and shape the future of our diverse world with confidence and compassion.”

There are important questions then, that we must ask ourselves:

  • As our students get older, how does their world grow with them?
  • How do we facilitate children’s understanding of our diverse world in developmentally appropriate ways?
  • How do we craft a scope and sequence of off-campus learning experiences to help students build their skills and inspire them to be answerable to their use?
  • How do we use New England, the United States, and the globe as our classroom?

I am excited to share that we will be adding a new experiential learning opportunity for our future eighth graders to answer some of these questions.

A living curriculum 

Each year Tessa Steinert Evoy, our incredible 7/8 social studies teacher, leads our oldest students through a dynamic and meaningful US history curriculum examining the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Next year, students will do a deep dive into the Civil Rights Movement – from the promises of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments through the 1950’s and 60’s when thousands of ordinary citizens did extraordinary things in service of “a more perfect union.” Many young people were an integral part of the Civil Rights Movement that brought about real change in the form of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The eighth-grade curriculum provides opportunities for our oldest students to learn about Reconstruction after the Civil War and the fight for racial justice throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Next year’s eighth graders will learn about the Freedom Riders, the March from Selma to Montgomery for Voting Rights, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Children’s March in Birmingham, and many other leaders and events as well as contemporary issues surrounding the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments.

The Eighth Grade Civil Rights Trip 

As a culmination of this work, the entire Class of 2025 will go on a four-day, three-night trip to Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia on Charles River School’s first Eighth Grade Civil Rights Trip. This trip will allow our oldest students to walk in the footsteps of the foot soldiers of American History. In some cases, they will even walk with them. We will meet with inspirational speakers who were part of the Civil Rights Movement when they were young, such as Hezekiah Watkins, who was arrested as Freedom Rider at age 13 in 1961, and Joanne Bland who marched in Selma in 1965 at age 10.

When we return from the trip, our eighth graders will have a chance to present their learning to the full parent and caregiver community. Please stay tuned for your opportunity to be inspired by the Class of 2025.

And this is just the beginning. Our vision is to make this an annual trip that is the hallmark of students’ final year at CRS. In the years to come, we will continue to grow our off-campus experiential learning opportunities at other grade levels that will allow our children to grow alongside our growing world.