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The City Journals

Early Light Academy Revisits 1968

Mar 10, 2016 09:16AM ● By Bryan Scott

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

South Jordan - Flash back to the days where guys are cool cats and sport headbands, girls wear miniskirts and everything is groovy.

On Jan. 29, Early Light Academy, a South Jordan charter school that emphasizes History, held its third annual Day in History focusing on the year of 1968.

“We dress like the time and have lessons geared to that year,” Rabecca Cisneros, Early Light Academy assistant director, said. “1968 is a pivotal year in U.S. history. We talked about the issues, what was going on and the cultural relevance with music and clothes.”

As students came dressed in 1960s outfits, they learned what happened during that time. In the auditorium, seventh-, eighth- and ninth-grade students listened to those who served in the military during Vietnam.

“What does Vietnam mean in my life?” asked John Norton, retired Lt. Col. who served in the war at age 25. “It meant men and women, like myself, left our homes to come provide aid to another country.”

Ninth-grader Ashley Hansen enjoyed the speakers.

“I appreciated hearing their personal experiences with Vietnam and civil rights and learned their reasons why we fought,” she said. “I also learned what the peace sign meant with nuclear disarmament when it was introduced.”

Each hallway took on a theme tying into historical events, such as the Summer Olympics held in Mexico City, Martin Luther King Jr.’s stand on civil rights, the popularity of the 747 airplane, the space race and others. This provided topics that classes then could pursue in discussion or writing assignments. Students also discussed popular cultural trends such as TV dinners and Tang.

“We want students to understand the relevance of history and understand that generation on generation builds on what happens the generation before. There’s more to history than memorizing and knowing dates. They need to be engaged and make personal connections,” she said.

In Ashley Tanner’s kindergarten class, they read folk tales, such as Arlene Mosel’s “Tikki Tikki Tembo,” and learned about Apollo 7’s orbit. Then they wrote a couple sentences about the flight into space.

Ninth-grader Avery Rindlisbacher said her class had several hands-on activities centered on the space race. They each made their own rockets out of index cards and straws so they, too, could “race to the moon.”

In Naomi Foreman’s third- grade class, they learned about pop culture, including dance and music.

“They weren’t alive then, so we brought it back to school so they could have that experience,” she said.

Cisneros said that this event is exactly that, more experienced based and less academic. The school holds a history fair for each grade level in May, during which students research and become “experts” on a topic.

“This day is for them to gain an understanding of the time period and experience it in their learning,” she said.

As part of the experience, older grades held a dance where they could learn how to do the twist or do the mash. They also previewed the scenes of “Downtown” and “Somewhere That’s Green” from “Little Shop of Horrors,” which the Theater 3 class performed during the week. 

“Little Shop of Horrors” was set in the 1960s and we actually have some items from that time period in our show,” theater director and teacher Toni Butler told students. 

In the show, they used 1960s lamp posts, but had to use replica light bulbs. They had four rotary phones, which they found online in Bulgaria, Lafaia, Toronto and in the U.S.; a period flashlight and camera; dental chair and dental equipment used in the 1960s; and a period radio that aired Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum and Ban Deodorant commercials. The cast members also sprayed Pine-Sol, a household product commonly used in that time period.

“There are 40 references in the song that talk about what it’s like living in the ‘60s,” Butler said, adding examples such as having a garbage disposal in the sink, a chain-link fence, a 12-inch screen TV, and references to Betty Crocker and well-known television celebrities Donna Reed and Lucille Ball.

Previous years the school has held Days in History in the years of 1776 and 1862.