For this past school year, the 6/7 grade class of the Sage School delved deep into their own personal family histories, interviewing relatives, learning about their ancestors and placing family narratives in the broader context of American and global history.
Now, as the school year winds to a close, the group’s efforts have culminated in a large-scale, ambitious final project: a play, written and performed by the students, that weaves all of these stories together into one decades-spanning narrative.
As they prepared for their performance—set for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 22, at the Argyros Performing Arts Center in Ketchum—the students took some time to reflect upon all they have learned about history, both personal and public, and how their perspectives have changed.
With grandparents and great-grandparents who fought in Vietnam and World War II, family members persecuted in the Holocaust, a grandfather who worked on the Manhattan Project and a great-grandmother who worked in the White House during the Watergate Scandal, the 17-student group represents a cross-section of American and world history, highlighting some of the most important events of the past century.
Looking further back into their genealogy, some students were able to trace ancestors to influential historical figures and events. One student, Simon Weekes, even confirmed that he had ancestors on the Mayflower, both on his mother’s side and his father’s.
All of the students spoke to how their studies altered their viewpoints on the past and on the present, but this was perhaps most concisely put by Milana Harter.
“My family went through the Holocaust,” she said. “It was eye-opening. I’m definitely more grateful after learning about my family history.”
Their teacher, Maria Maguire, spoke to the importance of establishing a family connection to global events to help foster a greater understanding and appreciation of how major catastrophes affected real people.
“Those are stories that don’t just come up at the dinner table,” she said. “Taking the time to specifically ask about people’s pasts is pretty special.”
“When you look at history, you can see why things are the way they are,” said Sophia Georgiades.
Mattie Embree added, “You can learn how everything has changed.”
Having spent the year as students, this group is now prepared to become teachers and actors, or, as one student saw it, to become cartographers.
“The past is a map of where we’ve been and what we know and what not to do,” said Sophie Smith.
With the script finished and set construction underway, and having honed their acting skills with local actress Savina Barini-Brown, the students are just about ready to take to the stage.
The performance is free and open to the public. Doors open at 6 p.m. ahead of a 6:30 p.m. curtain.
Visit thesageschool.org for more information about the school’s curriculum and educational philosophy.