Gann Student Testifies Before Legislative Committee

Sara Shapiro '20 and her eleventh-grade History teacher, Alex Green, were on Beacon Hill last week, testifying before a legislative committee in support of a bill that would open the historical records of people with disabilities.

Sara spent much of last year working with Mr. Green and her US History classmates to research and tell the stories of the nearly 300 individuals buried in unmarked graves at the MetFern Cemetery located near the Gann Academy campus. The MetFern Cemetery is the final resting place for those who died while in the care of the Metropolitan State Hospital and Walter E. Fernald State School. The course capstone project was a 298 page Yizkor book with a history of the MetFern and the biographies for those buried there.

About the US History class at Gann Academy
This civics-oriented eleventh-grade US History class is a student-led, project-based learning course in which the class produces a final product that serves an important community need. In past years, students built a museum exhibit on disability history that was exhibited at a local museum, conducted original research and wrote biographies of the lives of people with disabilities who were anonymously buried in the cemetery of a local institution, and designed and posted new signs at that burial ground. Students learn how to conduct original historical research, develop the skills of public historians, and dive deeply into broader US History as context for the specific stories they are researching. Students become original history storytellers, engage in civic action, and learn history in a way that is deep and ultimately long-lasting.
 
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