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Coming to America! by Mrs. Bailey
October 25, 2018

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Coming to America! With their passports and suitcases full of treasures, the G-R Fourth Graders immigrated to Ellis Island on Friday, October 12, 2018. In the simulation Mrs. Plett prepared for social studies class, the fourth graders experienced what many of their own ancestors experienced when they arrived in America. More than two million immigrants arrived at the processing center beginning in 1892, when Ellis Island opened, until November 12, 1954, when it closed. The students' passports contained the information about the ships they sailed on, the ports from which they left, and the years they sailed. The information on the passports advised high school volunteers and me about the details of their plans: with whom they were traveling, where the immigrants were headed, and what jobs they might have or be seeking. Students' baggage was checked; their health was checked; they were interviewed. It was my job to collect their fees and sell them train tickets to their destinations in America. Some had money; some had none; some had relatives who'd sent them tickets; some were the first in their families to arrive. Some immigrants were detained for various reasons and had to appear before the judge. In the end, all were welcomed to America, recited the oath, and became United States citizens. They all have stories to tell. I have asked my students to discover the stories of immigration in their own families. As we get 'farther' from those 'first Americans,' it is more difficult for my students to hear those stories and learn those facts.

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