by George J Elbaum
Lowell High School opened in 1831, shortly after the city of Lowell was established. From their inception, all of Lowell’s public schools were integrated, and African American Caroline Van Vronker was a student at Lowell High School in 1843, even though all public high schools in Massachusetts and the United States were segregated then. The school’s current enrollment is over 3100 students, with high racial and economic diversity: 32% Asian, 31% White, 24% Hispanic, and 11% African American, with 44% qualifying as Low Income subsidies. Much dedication and sensitivity are required for effective teaching, and I definitely felt that from the teachers organizing this event.
My presentation was organized by Social Studies teacher Jessica Lander, and it was attended by 90 11th and 12th graders who are recent immigrants and refugees from more than 30 different countries and are enrolled in her US History II Class. These students have spent 6 weeks studying World War II with a major focus on the Holocaust. There were also 50 students from an upper-level full year English Seminar on the Holocaust, plus students from an upper-level Seminar on American Diversity which focuses on American history and has a central thread of activism and learning how to be up-standers. Attending also were Head of School Marianne Busteed, Social Studies Chair Rob De Lossa, and English teacher Suzanne Riley. My participation was arranged by Judi Bohn, Jeff Smith and Charles Fitzgibbon of Facing History and Ourselves.