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New Course at Woodland: “Black and Latino Studies”

Lately, the question looming over many students’ minds is, ‘What classes should I take next year?’ During course registration, students may have noticed some new courses being offered by Woodland this year. One of these new courses is Black and Latino Studies! This course is a year-long, optional, course that will introduce history through different lenses. Students will study US history through the eyes of African American and Latino communities. This course will introduce new topics and narratives to historical events that are already in the usual history curriculum.

“The new information that you’re going to get from taking Black and Latino Studies will involve a more detailed and deliberate look, or analysis, at the contributions of those groups of people to our culture-to our society,” said Courtney Ambrose, the teacher who will be teaching the course. “In terms of new material, a lot of it’s going to feel familiar, because we’re going to be studying the same eras, decades, and social movements that we’ve always studied in US history. But our lens will specifically focus on these groups of people who don’t always get the center stage in a traditional US History class.” 

The process of creating this curriculum started in 2019. State senators, legislators, and representatives worked to propose having a statewide mandated curriculum for all high schools in Connecticut. Before the bill passed, it had a ton of support and input from students and teachers. The bill for this course had unanimous and bipartisan support from both republican and democratic parties at capitol hill. After the bill was passed, the team of college professors, high school teachers, museum curators, technology experts, historians, nonprofits, and Meghan Geary got to work. Although COVID-19 affected the process of writing the curriculum, it is now available and will begin in the 2022-2023 school year. Now Connecticut is the first state nationwide to mandate this course in all public schools. 

“There was a real concern that students were graduating high school with a real lack of understanding about contributions of Black and Latino people to the history and the present of the United States of America,” said Geary, who helped write the curriculum. “African and Latino Studies are taught in many schools and they’re embedded in the curriculum of traditional American history, but they are not taught right, reliably, or consistently across the state.” 

It’s important to learn history through other perspectives because it helps students understand history and people better. 

“When we make space for alternate voices, it broadens our horizons and makes us more empathetic and better people, ” explained Ambrose. 

The first half of the year will focus on African American studies and the second half of the year will focus on Latino American studies. Portions of the curriculum will focus on the effect these communities have on pop culture and music. This class moves away from the traditional assessment and quiz route. It will be mostly project-based and primary source analyses. Taking this course may help you find a new interest that you never thought you had. Geary found a love for this subject after being accidentally put into the Black and Latino studies course at Hunter College. 

“It was the best accident that ever happened to me in my life.” 

Sarah Cooley

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