by George J Elbaum
Urban Science Academy (USA) is a small public high school in the West Roxbury neighborhood of Boston created in 2005 as part of the High School Renewal Effort which reconstituted large comprehensive Boston schools into smaller, theme-based learning communities. With approximately 500 students and a curriculum centered on science and technology, USA focuses on important issues to prepare its students for college and the world. Asking the essential question, “What is our place in the world?,” it allows students to consider and challenge themselves to take part in finding their interests, and how they can contribute to the communities around them. USA classes consist of Humanities, Mathematics, Foreign Language and the sciences: Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. The classes are designed, each in its own way, to recognize what part they attribute to the world, while at the same time empowering students to learn more.
My presentation was to 11th graders of Humanities III, which is a combination of History and English Language Arts and conducts a Holocaust & Human Behavior unit with readings from Elie Wiesel’s Night and related Facing History texts. The class has been taught for 3 years by Humanities teachers Tana Becker and Isabel Perez, who organized my visit along with Judi Bohn of Facing History and Ourselves. Also in attendance were Humanities teacher Amy Eisenschmidt and Kirk Womack, who introduced me to the students.