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Principia School
Eighth Graders Create Civil Rights Museum

This spring, eighth-grade students completed a comprehensive unit, learning about the people, places, and events surrounding the American Civil Rights Movement. The culminating activity was designing and constructing a walkthrough exhibit that displayed the students’ findings. 

Friends and family came together in April to witness a stunning display of the important milestones and progress made in our country while highlighting existing inequalities and issues that continue to prevail today. The Civil Rights Museum provoked thoughtful discussion among visitors and shared the breadth and depth of students’ learning and creativity.

This year’s project was a collaboration between Principia and students at the St. Louis Catholic Academy. Throughout the semester, eighth graders worked to bring history to life through informative and evocative artwork. The museum was artfully constructed using mixed media showing the hardships and brutality faced by African Americans throughout United States history, including the Vietnam War—as well as the joy, hope, and important contributions made by Black artists, musicians, fashion designers, and trend setters. 

It was clear students were both moved and inspired by the topics they researched. Each eighth grader confidently presented a mini speech about their key takeaways from the project. Many were surprised to discover how little they knew about a particular element of African American history/civil rights, or how overlooked so many people and their stories were and are today. Being able to highlight these critical issues and ongoing challenges was “empowering” and “humbling” to students.