Students become History Center docents

Avonworth students Ryan Monti and Lydija Amayo display their art, which combined Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel, “Uncle Tom's Cabin” and the Million Man March. Their project integrated the issues of slavery raised by Stowe and the march towards equality and progress embodied by the Million Man March. Photo by Tom Steiner for The Citizen

Avonworth eighth graders had the opportunity to reverse their roles when they visited the Heinz History Center on the evening of Feb. 22, with 118 students becoming the teachers, and serving as docents to explain aspects of displays that are part of the Center's current exhibition, “From Slavery to Freedom, Western Pennsylvania Sports, Innovators and Special Collections.”

Students visited the museum in mid-December to select pieces that they wanted to research with more depth.

Along the way, they received guidance from their teachers, Julie Raitano, Zach Staszak, and Joe Witek, as well as from experts in the field. Dr. Christel N. Temple, a professor in the Africana Studies Department at the University of Pittsburgh, visited the students as they prepped for their teaching and discussed the representation of African Americans in history. Also, several veteran docents shared information with them, and Maritza Mosquera, an artist, educator and community-transformation partner, assisted students in the process of creating art pieces that also were on display.

Speaking for the teaching team, Witek said, “The eighth grade did an incredible job at the museum. They embraced their roles as docents to successfully entertain and inform the community through their art projects. This project was definitely their best yet and we are all proud of their hard work.”