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Classroom Happenings: Historical Context

The Steward School
1972 Fest prompts new perspectives 
On October 14, and in conjunction with Spirit Week, Upper Schoolers set up posters and displays along the Colonnade for 1972 Fest, a day-long event that explored the political and social landscape of the world from 50 years ago — the same year that Steward was founded. Upper School Social Studies Teacher Jalyn Wheatley organized the event, tasking all Upper School students to illustrate what they’d researched about 1972 in creative ways. In addition, sixth graders in Middle School Social Studies Teacher Craig Redmond Cilley’s classes made posters for the 1972 Fest. 

With 70s music blaring — and students from all divisions dressed in “groovy” garb for Spirit Week’s “Celebrate 1972” day  — Upper Schoolers proudly displayed their projects, which covered happenings such as Apollo 17 (the last manned moon landing), the Watergate scandal, and the hostage situation at the Munich Olympics. This unique project gave students the opportunity to hone their critical-thinking skills as they explored not-so-familiar topics. 

“Most students had heard of some of these events before, but they were excited to dig deeper and think about how they could present this information in interesting ways,” said Ms. Wheatley. “Students were shocked, for example, when they learned that women weren’t allowed to open credit cards without their husband’s signature until 1974.”

Students also brought in “vintage” food recipes; learned about musicians such as David Bowie and Bill Withers, plus Vietnam protest music; reenacted a presidential campaign; played 70s games like hacky sack; and examined how clothing prices have changed over the past 50 years. A “flower power” photo booth added a cool vibe to the day. 

The event encouraged students to think critically and inspired them to make connections between the classroom and the wider world. 

“The 1972 Fest enriched students’ knowledge because it helped provide historical context to Steward’s 50th anniversary,” noted Ms. Wheatley, who recently brought her record player to class so students could see how it works. “They got to listen to 70s music while they studied,” she said. “It was a fun way to break away from our regular curriculum!”


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