This week, Sage School students will take audiences on a journey through history with an original play to cap off a year-long research project. On Thursday night, the school’s sixth and seventh grade cohort will stage a performance for family members telling the stories of their ancestors.
The sixth- and seventh-graders have spent the school year studying history—and researching how their own families fit into it. Now, they’ve written an original play weaving the narratives compiled from their genealogical research together.
“They’re literally putting themselves in the shoes of these people of the past,” sixth- and seventh-grade teacher Maria Maguire said. “They’re contemplating how history is written and who gets to write it.”
The result is a wide-ranging retelling of history, according to Maguire. While one student traced their ancestry to Pocahontas, another learned they were related to the first female cab driver in New York City. One student studied a relative who survived a concentration camp; another discovered their relation to a lawyer in the Nuremberg trials. Others researched connections to more recent history: a relative who served as a judge in the trial of murderer Charles Manson; another who fought in the Iraq War.
“It’s a really relevant way to learn about history because it’s their own family history, rather than reading it out of books,” Maguire said.
The students’ research findings aren’t always easy to discuss, Maguire said, particularly when researching ties to tragic or violent events. Open communication is key in those conversations, she said.
“These topics sort of coming out through drama and dialogue is a really powerful way to experience it,” she said.
After performing for their fellow Sage School students, the 29 sixth- and seventh-graders will stage their show Thursday evening at Mountain Humane. The audience will be limited to family members.