Seventh grade sees cultural show at Apollo Theatre

Patrick Stinebaugh, Staff Writer

The seventh grade boarded buses headed for the Apollo Theater in Manhattan this morning at 9:30. The trip, run by Middle Division (MD) history teacher Natalie Wiegand, is part of the seventh grade’s museum projects for their history classes, and is new to the MD. 

The museum project is part of the seventh grade history curriculum. Typically, students are given a list of eligible museums for them to attend and they go outside of school with their families to locations including the Tenement Museum and the Ellis Island Museum.  They learn about the history of the museum on their own and then return to the classroom with a new understanding and being able to explain what they studied.

While in previous years the museum project held students responsible for going to the sites themselves, this year the school is providing the trips in case parents can’t take students, or if financially there are some struggles getting to the museum, Wiegand said.  While the trip is an optional part of the museum project, they filled up the trip right away, so kids really wanted to go, Wiegand said.

At the theater, the seventh graders will see a show about Retumba, a form of Caribbean music.  The academic point of the trip is the museum project, so kids can return to the classroom having learned something new, but a non-classroom related goal of going to the Retumba show is to teach the seventh graders about other cultures and communities, Wiegand said.

“Since it’s Caribbean it’s more than you might see from that time, it’s more diverse and inclusive,” Stephanie Lee (7) said.

The school isn’t just providing one trip to the Apollo Theater this year, though.  After spring break there will be another show option for the seventh graders to go to, which will be on Tapology, the history of tap dance.  The show will be more history-oriented rather than focusing on culture like the Retumba show, but the idea was more appealing to some students.

“I know a lot of dancers signed up for the Tapology show,” Wiegand said.

MD history teacher Catherine Rudbeck, who also dances, is excited for the Tapology show as well, she said.

Lee is excited because it’s different from all the other trips and they get to go see a show, she said.

School-provided events for the museum project in particular is a new idea and has room to change or grow in the future.  “I could imagine in future years that we can do a tour of the theater, or maybe an evening show,” Wiegand said.

“It’s fun to go to because the teachers can also help guide you with your project,” Wyatt Silverman (7) said.

The Retumba and Tapology shows during the day are hosted by the Apollo Theater’s education department while nighttime shows are more for entertainment.  Nonetheless, the seventh graders are excited for the upcoming trip and the opportunity to see different cultures.

Hanzhang Swen (7) felt the while she’s not a dancer, she’s excited to learn about tap dance, she said.

“I’m excited to learn about the experiences of people who came to this country,” Maeve Goldman (7) said.