Walking through the A Building during the last few weeks of school, a Burlingame student will notice that a few things are out of place. There are juniors dressed in homage to certain decades, subtle or wild. There is music coming from two specific classrooms, denoted by their decorated doors. These are the rooms of CP United States History teachers Jen Rohrbach and Annie Miller, who assign their students the Decades Project towards the end of every second semester.
Rohrbach brought the Decades project from Menlo-Atherton to Burlingame, and for six years it has been a staple of CPUSH curriculum. Students are assigned a certain decade, then are required to dress up in relevant fashion, present on the decade, and design activities to engage and immerse their audience in that period of American history. The students must work with the other class periods assigned to their decade, so it is as much work as it is fun. The project has become a rite of passage for second-semester eleventh graders.
“We have a lot of content, primarily political and economic, we don’t get a lot of time to talk about social trends.” Miller said, “the purpose is to give students a feel about what life was like and connect it to the curriculum.”
The project involves a lot of learning, but is also a great opportunity for students to connect with one another and make friends.
“I have just had so much fun, I have 100% attendance when we do this project and it's just nice. You get out of your comfort zone with others and it makes you closer,” said Rohrbach.
The project is a different way to study for finals, and can help a student's grade. With a maximum value of 150 points, it can make a difference for students with borderline grades and give kids who do not excel at common assessments an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge.
“I have some students who don’t always do the best on essays and tests, but they come out of their shells and do so great,” said Miller.
The decades project brings such a strong energy to our campus, especially because the teachers who are in charge of it care so much.
“I love history,” said Rohrbach. “When people are passionate about the subject and can connect it to their own lives, it means something.”