Cedarwood Elementary School creates Ellis Island experience

Students go through the “Ellis Island Experience” at Cedarwood Elementary. (Photo courtesy of CUSD)

May 30, 2023 -Cedarwood Elementary School in Clovis Unified got creative while educating students on their latest history lesson.

That lesson would see Cedarwood Elementary transform itself into an “Ellis Island” replica, where students would go through certain processes of immigration that American citizens once went through first starting in the late 1800’s.

Along with dozens of parent volunteers and teachers, the fifth-grade students were dressed in period clothing as they went through the original processes of immigration.

“Ellis Island” was actually transformed via the Cedarwood Multipurpose Room and according to CUSD, gave students a chance to “experience what many of their ancestors did upon arriving as immigrants to the United States.”

Students were asked to take on a persona of an immigrant relative or other researched immigrant from earlier on in their school year.

Emerging from their “ships” which happened to be their own specific classrooms, students began a journey with registration tables outside of the multi-purpose room or outside of “Ellis Island”.

Parent volunteers, or “immigration officials”, then asked questions required of all “acceptable immigrants” that would allow them inside of the center.

Once inside the “Great Hall”, students were subjected to a variety of experiences, says CUSD. One station housed a “medical examiner” who asked students about diseases from the time period they were covering, and were then either passed through or quarantined.

At a separate station, students were given citizenship tests on American history and the government.

Students were then fingerprinted, photographed, and wrote in their journals about their experience in “coming to America”.

Finally, students shared with their fellow “immigrants”, a “Bundle of Memories”, which was brought from their specific homelands of their specific histories, which should have included something given to them by family members, something that would entertain them over the boat venture, and a food item.

After all newcomers completed the stations, they then took the citizenship oath and recited the Pledge of Allegiance for the first time as “American citizens”.

They then returned to their classrooms to share bread from their specific homelands.

JT is a recent college grad with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. He is mainly interested in sports and entertainment but covers a wide array of subjects. He currently writes for the Fresno State Baseball Dugout Club. JT looks forward to continuing his career at the Clovis Roundup and is excited to be working closely with a community that is very proud of its people.