The Advent School Makes the Boston Common an Interactive Classroom

Special to the Beacon Hill Times

A group of 21 third graders from the Advent School joined more than 1,000 elementary school students from across Boston Public Schools descended on the Boston Common this week for an interactive field trip that brings centuries of history to life.

 The 10th Annual “Making History on the Common” event, hosted by the Friends of the Public Garden, turns America’s oldest public park into an outdoor classroom, giving BPS students the opportunity to experience the Boston Common and history in a new light.

 “The beautiful thing about Boston Common is that it’s the center stage of civic life. It is the people’s park, so it belongs to everyone,” said Liz Vizza, Executive Director of Friends of the Public Garden, a nonprofit advocacy group that takes care of the Boston Common, the Public Garden, and the Commonwealth Avenue Mall.

The students shared Vizza’s enthusiasm about the “Making History on the Common” event, with one child saying, “I like it because most kids in the world don’t know that much stuff about what happened back in the day.”

 Another student added, “I think it was really fun. It was awesome. I really like this field trip.”

 The students from the Advent School and a dozen other Boston Public Schools traveled throughout the Common to different lesson stations, experiencing history from Native American times to the Colonial and Civil War eras. At one station, children learned traditions from the Wampanoag Singers and Dancers. Reenactors of the valor of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, the first regiment of African American soldiers from the North to fight in the Civil War, shared stories of the Common’s historic use as a military training ground. To better understand how public spaces like the Common are used for civic engagement, hundreds of students marched in a mini protest while others explored topics of propaganda and patriotism, examining the Victory Gardens that were planted in the park during World War I.

 Other lessons were led by educators from Historic New England, Boston City Archeologist Joe Bagley, members of the Freedom Trail Foundation, the New England Historic Genealogy Society, the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center, and the Boston Landmarks Commission.

 “We had over a thousand Boston school children, from 3rd to 5th grade, from almost every neighborhood in Boston join us for this immersive field trip,” said Liz Vizza. “What better way to connect with history than learning by doing?”

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