Beginning in the youngest grades at French American, students learn in two complementary curricula, preparing them to think critically and act globally. Through an emphasis on our connection to our city and the world, students develop an understanding of themselves, their impact, and how local and national events, past and current, affect all of us in a global landscape. This fall, one of the ways in which we fostered student engagement and citizenship was through the Middle School’s inaugural trip to Washington, D.C.
In early October, 6th grade students spent a week in Washington exploring civics, branches of government, social justice, and the meaning of democracy—topics introduced in 5th grade Histoire Géographie and Social Studies classes, as part of both the French and American curricula. The goal was to deepen students’ understanding of these topics—visiting the monuments and museums offered a more impactful opportunity for reflection on the history they represent and the stories they tell.
Prior to the trip, students analyzed Norman Rockwell’s 1964 painting, The Problem We All Live With, as part of a cross-disciplinary project in Histoire Géographie with Mouna Harifi and Arts classes with Xavier Le Renard. The painting depicts Ruby Bridges, a six-year-old African American girl being escorted by U.S. marshals to an all-white public school on November 14, 1960, during the New Orleans school desegregation crisis. Students reflected on the painting, its significance, and recent events, and created collages depicting observed similarities and differences between the 1960s and today. In Washington, students gained another look at this part of history through a visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
“It was an amazing trip filled with a lot of rich and dense learning experiences that complemented the learning that takes place in the classroom. I’m very proud that we could take our students to D.C. for the first time this year, and excited to make it an annual part of our 6th grade curriculum,” reflected Fabrice Urrizalqui, Middle School Principal.
Later this year, students will visit San Francisco City Hall and see how conversations in Washington translate to and impact local government action.
Fabrice continued, “In the times we are currently living, our mission to foster critical thinking and global citizenship is of the utmost importance. It always is, but the significance is even more visible in today’s environment.”