• A Trip to Ellis Island

    On November 1st and 2nd, MHS Juniors were treated to a trip to Ellis Island as part of their unit study of American immigration. The entire class had the opportunity to view the refurbished National Landmark and tour the educational exhibits. Students were able to access the recorded oral histories of those who came through Ellis Island and these vivid stories of the emigrants life experiences opened the students eyes to the hardships that many of their ancestors endured.

    Program With the Community

    On October 26 many students attended a special program on Italian-American immigration sponsored by the Madison Historical Society. Students were treated to a presentation by a noted Drew University scholar who discussed the struggles and contributions of the many Italians who came to the United States and settled in Madison and the surrounding area. A panel of elderly Italian-American citizens then shared their memories of the past—much to the joy and amusement of the audience. Program participants and audience members were then recruited to join the students on the field trip in November.

    The Trip

    Small groups of students were joined with a community member who had some connection to Ellis Island for a tour of the facility. In addition to learning more about the overall immigration experience and the role of Ellis Island, the groups were tasked with investigating the immigration story of the nation represented by the community member in their group—know affectionately to their students as a "Historical Resource Person". The trip activity packet required students to periodically gather information from their HRP along the way in the form of "oral testimony" that could be used later as part of any project or assessment designed by their teachers. By the end of the trip the students and community members had developed the kind of positive rapport that often comes from shared experience.

    The Social Studies Department hopes to run the Ellis Island trip on a biennial basis, alternating each year with the trip to the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Holmdel.

    Follow-up Activities

    Mrs. Irwin's classes created research projects consisting of information gathered from this trip and additional sources. The objective was to gain a greater understanding of the immigrants who passed through Ellis Island in order to pursue their dreams.

    Slavic Immigration (ppt)
    Russian Immigration (ppt)
    Scandinavian Immigration (ppt)
    Southern European Immigration (ppt)
    Germanic Immigration (ppt)


    Ellis Island

    "The trip was a great opportunity for students to better understand the immigrant roots of their own community."
    - Mark De Biasse, History Department Chair

    Ellis Boat

    "Thank you for inviting me to go on the trip to Ellis Island. I really enjoyed it....The students are so outgoing and full of life it made me feel good."
    - Fanny Piano