New Trier students take lessons on Native American culture outside the classroom

Sage Bradford

Students from New Trier's Integrated Global Studies School who spent a semester studying Native American culture recently put their lessons into action outside the classroom, from lobbying Congress to presenting their projects to local elementary students.

IGSS, New Trier's interdisciplinary school-within-a-school for juniors and seniors, centered its unit around the question: "Should the United States apologize for the genocide of Native Americans?"

"We invited students to think what kind of action they can take to help Native Americans," IGSS teacher Lindsay Arado said. "We then explored the native people through all different lenses and integrated all of our curriculum into this unit."

The unit began with a Skype video call between IGSS students and members of the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana. After their meeting, the students brainstormed about how they could put what they learned into action.

Some students lobbied Congress to provide funding for paved roads in reservations so ambulances can get through. Others worked to install a plaque at the Indian Hill Metra Station in Winnetka to educate commuters about the area's Native American history. Still others made and displayed replicas of Native American clothes and jewelry, with Internet codes to scan for more information.

Other projects included visiting the high school's feeder elementary schools around Thanksgiving to teach young students about Christopher Columbus and the Native Americans, screening a film about Native Americans in the arts at the Wilmette Theatre and collecting toiletries to send to families on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

"In a million years, I wouldn't think to focus on all of these different topics, but it was so interesting to learn what was important to the students and how they chose to educate others," Arado said.

The Integrated Global Studies School provides a small school setting for students on the Winnetka Campus who wish to help direct the path of their own education. About 80 juniors and seniors participate in the interdisciplinary school, which meets for four periods each school day and encourages an experiential, integrated approach to subjects including social studies, English, science and art.

To learn more about IGSS, visit www.newtrier.k12.il.us/igss . Applications are now available for the 2017-2018 school year.