Have a tortilla while learning about a Mexican “coyote”. CELC’s “Living History” Extravaganza was a huge success! 

Students brought research to a new level as they worked toward CELC Middle School’s “Living History” Student Exhibition.

Friday, 7 June 2019 students filled the Soundview Family YMCA with displays representing countries from around the world where large waves of immigration into the U.S.A. have taken place.  Each student developed a persona to share the life story of this fictitious, yet historically accurate character, all based on months of research. Cambodia, Mexico, Italy, China, Cuba, Nigeria, Japan, Guatemala, Ireland, and Germany all were included. 

Under the broad theme of Heritage, Ethnicity, and Quest for Freedom, each student chose a country to study for a research paper from where there were a large number of people who emigrated to the U.S., focusing primarily on the “push/pull” factors involved. 

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They completed the writing of a full research paper, including outlining, note taking, compiling notes into a rough draft, and ultimately a final published piece. 

Each student was then challenged to create a “life-sized” display, depicting in some way an environment to best represent the immigration story.  Friday’s event had students dressed in costume, sharing from within the display a first-person narrative, all in an effort to bring learning to a new level – out of the textbook, making it real.  The event is always free and open to the public.

It was incredible to witness students move from abstract idea stage to the actualization of these projects.  Across MANY days the CELC classroom evolved into a working arena, where students prepared and decorated walls using disassembled refrigerator boxes and built models out of cardboard.  They worked diligently to create informational visuals, such as maps and timelines and artistically considered how to include details in order to bring their displays to life.  

Students made progress in a stepwise fashion to achieve desired outcomes.  Experiential learning takes place through the process of trial and error; this generally is not the preference of the middle school-aged person, who often wants to get it “right” the first time!  Creative solutions and stick-to-it-ness abounded!

Students worked independently as well as supported one another in the group effort.  This type of dedication is not typical for a middle school experience; the amount of attention to detail, level of focus, and endurance this type of work requires is a depth of learning that is not commonly achieved in a 45-minute class period!   These students have much to be proud of!

CELC Student Share Day occurs annually.  For the 2019-20 academic year, CELC’s theme is Exploration and Discovery.  Each student will hand-build an environment to represent the life and work of someone who has made a significant impact on the world within their field of study.  The public is once again invited to attend and experience the exhilaration of this endeavor! 


CT Experiential Learning Center (CELC) Middle School of Branford provides an energizing, personalized, and significant middle school experience, where children can flourish during these important and impactful 5th – 8th grade years.  CT Experiential Learning Center (CELC) is a 501c3 tax-exempt corporation.