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Sidwell Friends School's Student Newspaper Since 1974


Sidwell Friends School's Student Newspaper Since 1974


Sidwell Friends School's Student Newspaper Since 1974


11th Graders Visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture


  On Wednesday, Jan. 31, Sidwell juniors participated on a field trip to the National Museum of African American History and Culture as part of their History of the United States class. The trip, the product of a year’s worth of planning, was highly anticipated by both teachers and students.

According to history teacher Jewell Debnam, the field trip allowed students to engage with the material they were learning in class in a more visual and hands-on way. 

“We thought it would be a good museum for the 11th grade because we are doing U.S. History, and African American history is part of U.S. history,” Debnam said. “It is always interesting to see things we discuss in class because it makes them more real.”

Kyra Daniel, a U.S. history teacher, wanted her students to “use the trip to contemplate how different histories are told” and consider “how histories filled with violence, joy, chaos, pain, sadness and expression be held, contained and explored.” 

Daniel and Debnam think it is essential to explore all aspects of U.S. history in a non-polarizing way to ensure its contents do not seem too black or white. “The beauty of looking at something like Black American history is that it forces us to imagine stories filled with many different realities, stories that must be told simultaneously, including the unimaginable violence and the unimaginable beauty,” Daniel explained.

Joshua Small, another Upper School history teacher, added that by going to the museum, the teachers hoped students would see “a through line of the African American legacy” since the museum is dedicated to and covers centuries of Black history.

“While the [exhibits in each museum floor] were intense, I think they did a great job balancing that intensity with moments of [lightheartedness],” junior Mira Flood said.

Debnam encouraged the students “to engage with the history on the museum’s bottom floors but to leave time to see the culture at the top.” According to the teachers, students seemed to favor the museum’s top floor, which displays stage outfits and props of famous performers and has a screen to select songs to play over speakers. 

“I found the Afrofuturism exhibit with the Black Panther costume very interesting,” junior Isabelle Reineeke said. “Going into the trip, I did not expect pop culture to carry so much weight and powerful messages.”

According to Debnam, the trip was a massive success and did a fantastic job of helping students explore their interests outside of a school setting. 

“Overall, the trip was an exciting and immersive experience,” Flood said.

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