Welcome from Principal, Tami Weiser

5/12/2011 Message from Principal, Tami Weiser

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As an adult when we are asked to remember our elementary school experience, consistently people mention a vivid memory rather than a lesson that involved reading a chapter in a book and answering the questions at the bottom of the page. Today, we gave our Stephen S. Wise fifth grade students one of those indelible memories. Our fifth graders participated in their immigration simulation and it was amazing to watch. Students got out of their cars dressed as immigrants from different countries, and they gathered with their family members. Their first task was to board a train from Russia to France, which was challenging as some families were separated, some lost tickets, and some had to really negotiate to get their passports accepted. Then, each family had to get on a “ship” led by Captain Hosler, where they had the treacherous journey across the ocean. Families lost precious items on the journey, and even worse a few family members. One early lesson was that a generous bribe to the captain often got them a better place on the ship. Once they arrived to Ellis Island they had a grueling process to go through. They had to wait in line at passport control, and many found out that their original names were changed to more “American” names without any discussion. On to the luggage station, where many items were confiscated if the inspector liked them (I saw Mrs. Baker with quite a few new necklaces!). The next challenge was the medical inspection done by “Dr. Kim” who checked hair, teeth and eyes to see if the immigrant was healthy enough to enter the country. There were some braces that caused quite a stir. And the final station was intelligence where students had to do learning activities and then within their families answer 100 naturalization questions – the actual questions currently asked to enter the U.S. At each step of the way students were faced with scares such as deportation, and triumphs as they moved through the process. The final ceremony was having the entire class stand to take the naturalization oath, and it was really a meaningful time for all. I shared with the fifth grade after the simulation that when they are adults and someone asks them about their elementary school they will be able to say, “I remember being in the school play, I remember winning a championship game, and I remember our immigration simulation.” I am so blessed to be part of an educational team that creates and provides these opportunities for kids every day!


 Tami Weiser

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