June 22, 2024
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Pop-Up Museum At RPRY Breakfast Showcases 75 Years

Recognizing that the yeshiva’s 75th year was not just a notable milestone but also a great opportunity to teach students an usual suite of skills, RPRY administrators developed an idea for a semester-long project to highlight the anniversary.�

They suggested a pop-up museum, created by the students under the direction of two teachers, to be available for viewing at the conclusion of the scholarship breakfast.

The school administration asked Ally Cooper, middle school language arts and sixth- and seventh-grade English teacher, and Bonnie Drazen, RPRY Think Tank director and seventh-grade language arts teacher, both of East Brunswick, to oversee the project. They provided one class period for the boys and one class period for the girls, each day, to work on the project.

Two of the students assigned to the project, Sam Blau and Solomon Grunstein, described their work in the RPRY weekly newsletter on December 13: “RPRY seventh graders have been assigned to make a museum about the history of RPRY in honor of RPRY’s 75th anniversary this year. … We launched the project by going to the Princeton Art Museum to gain an understanding of what our museum should be like. There, we learned how to curate a good quality museum. We looked at many different pieces and why they were grouped where they were. For example, they may have been grouped based on donor, genre, artist, country, etc.

“After the trip, we worked on finding artifacts throughout the school, and sorting what years they’re from. We also received artifacts from people in the community. The seventh grade was put into groups and each group represented a decade from this school’s history since 1945 until present day. Most groups interviewed a staff member from their decade, and wrote a paragraph about them. Every student typed an ‘all about me’ paragraph about themselves. Every group has a table and a trifold. The trifolds feature the ‘all about me,’ the interview paragraphs, and more. The tables feature the new and old artifacts from RPRY’s history.”

Cooper stated that the goal of the project was “to highlight all of the school’s history, celebrate the faculty and community and draw attention to Rabbi Pesach Raymon’s incredible work to establish a region of Torah. And it fit well within the school’s theme this year, of Mesorah. We’re so impressed with the boys’ and girls’ efforts as curators and docents.” Drazen added: “One of the outcomes we had in mind was to show the students how a museum is curated. In the trip to the Princeton Art Museum, students interacted with the curator and learned about the sensibilities of the exhibits. (Over the past few months) I’ve listened in as students have worked on their displays and been so encouraged to see how very excited they were by this project.”

Dozens of participants in the scholarship breakfast visited the pop-up museum, located in a large white party tent on the outside the school, after the breakfast concluded. Visitors took evident delight in perusing old yearbooks, seeing the school’s development over the decades, and reading accounts of “their” or their children’s years in the school.

By Harry Glazer

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