July 12, 2024
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July 12, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Frisch Students Take to the Streets in New Summer Program

Last week marked the successful inauguration of the Frisch Summer History Experience (FSHE). The weeklong program introduced the teen participants to the history and culture of the different neighborhoods of New York City.

Led by Frisch History Department co-chair and licensed New York City tour guide Eitan Kastner, FSHE spent each day traversing different areas of Manhattan. Throughout, the students learned about the common threads that unite the island and the unique factors that give each neighborhood its own vibe.

FSHE is one of many examples of the Frisch School breaking down the barriers of the traditional classroom model of education. While still offering outstanding academic offerings with experienced educators, over the past few years, Frisch has pioneered new and exciting avenues in pedagogy. This includes the creation of dedicated arts, music, and engineering tracks and a top-to-bottom revamping and modernizing of the four year history curriculum.

“No classroom can compare to the streets and institutions of Manhattan,” said Mr. Kastner. “No fancy PowerPoint or Smartboard can recreate the opulence of the Gilded Age in the Woolworth Building’s design or the claustrophobia of an immigrant tenement at the Tenement Museum.”

Spending a day each in Lower Manhattan, the Lower East Side, Midtown, the Upper East Side, and Northern Manhattan, FSHE visited well known sights like Rockefeller Center, Central Park, the Museum at Eldridge Street, and the High Line, but also lesser known gems like the National Museum of the American Indian, Temple Emanu-El, Hamilton Grange, and the Cloisters.

“Each day revolved around a theme that united the disparate sights we visited, while building larger narratives about the city,” said Mr. Kastner. “For instance, on the first day, we visited the new Oculus PATH station in the context of rebuilding the city after 9/11. This then enabled us to compare that station with its larger uptown cousins of Grand Central Terminal and Pennsylvania Station. The students immediately perceived the differences in the grandeur of Grand Central, the confusion of Penn Station, and the airiness of the Oculus. This gave me the opening to put each station in its historical context and explain why they look the way they do.”

The students gained a new appreciation for a city they have visited scores of times in the past. “I had a great time at Mr. Kastner’s history camp last week.” Said Jake Birman. “Even though I live less than a half hour away from Manhattan, I’ve never been able to view New York from a historical perspective and Mr. Kastner really gave me a new appreciation for the city.”

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