by Rebecca Ríos, English Teacher, Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican High School

 

On March 15, 2017, 90 students from Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos will be heading to see a matinee performance of Hamilton. As part of the Hamilton program through the Gilder Lehrman Institute, history students worked on a history project with Stacy Erenberg, U.S. History Teacher, and myself, that engaged the students in primary source study and creative performances. Through the project, students learned about key people, events, and documents from the American Revolution and the Founding era and were able to analyze this history in a completely different way. Just like Lin Manuel Miranda did with Hamilton, students were encouraged to reanalyze and reimagine this history in a way that connects it to their own experiences. It also allowed for them to think more critically about historical study and the importance of point of view, bias, and context. We were also able to partner with Melissa DuPrey, who is an actress, comedian, and activist from Humboldt Park. She hosted workshops with our students that really helped them to see themselves as performers as well and gave them confidence to share their creativity and their own voices. Students reflected on the project in many ways. When I asked them what they thought about this experience and about what they learned, students had some very interesting remarks. Sergio Hernandez, a student from my class, stated that he found it interesting that there was violence that happened then as well between two of the founding fathers who are typically glorified. He was referring to the fact that Hamilton was killed in a duel because of a dispute with Aaron Burr. He also learned that some of these people like Hamilton, had their fathers leave them. Many students were able to relate more personal experiences. It was great to be able to see students use their own unique voices and culture to retell this history. Students were able to write poetry, songs, raps, scenes and monologues. One student even wrote a corrido about Hamilton that was written entirely in Spanish. Overall, I think it was a great experience for the students and we are all excited to see Hamilton on March 15th.