Welcome to America

Thomas Jefferson Grammar School holds immigration day.
Apr. 02, 2014 @ 05:01 AM

Where is your passport? Where will you live? Where are you going to work?

These questions and more were asked of second-grade Thomas Jefferson Grammar School students during a special Immigration Day held at Crestview Baptist Church on Tuesday.

The classes have been studying immigration and teachers wanted students to experience what immigrants went through when they came to Ellis Island, New York which was the gateway for millions of immigrants and the nation's biggest inspection station from 1892 until 1954.

"We want to give them real experience so they can empathize with how the immigrants felt coming into Ellis Island," Heather Roche, second-grade teacher, said. "They are taking it very seriously."

The students were each given an immigrant to portray and were required to dress like them and bring a suitcase. They went through mock inspections, mental testing, legal testing and medical exams.

"For the mental testing they have to put together a tangram puzzle and read passages in their native language," Roche said. "Then they are also writing about their experience at Ellis Island. So it's putting all the subjects together."

Some of the students did not pass their medical exams and were either sent to the hospital for quarantine or deported.

"It was interesting being on the medical side of things. I tried to be serious with them," Candice Edwards, a second-grade teacher who played a doctor during the simulation, said. "They are experiencing what going through Ellis Island would have felt like. It's giving them the experience of being uncomfortable."

After the exams, the students who successfully completed each task, were welcomed into America by student Issac Lail, who dressed as the Statue of Liberty.