Immigrants arrive on campus: Immigration Day 2024

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Seventh graders had the opportunity to experience what it was like to be an immigrant in the early 1900s by participating in the yearly Immigration Day festival. Students were required to act and dress in clothes proper for the respective time period for the event April 24th. This included ankle-length skirts for women who had to be partnered with at least one male, as a solo female would not be allowed through Ellis Island. 

Students formed groups of four (with at least one male) and were required to pick a country of origin and last name. Names such as “Adams,” “Rossi” and “Petit” were common choices. Additionally, the immigrants were restricted to picking mainly European countries, such as Ireland and France, as country of origins, since Asian and Latin American countries did not yet immigrate to America in the early 1900s. 

Students started their day by checking in at the admissions center, which was the Student Center. Students then had to wait for the painstakingly long process of the immigration office to call their name. The “officers,” who were seventh grade history teachers Ms. Conn and Ms. Porges, were only allowed to call a certain number of names in the given time period of 5 minutes. Then, immigrants had to wait another 10 minutes until the next batch of names got called. This gave students a taste of the painstakingly long process of immigration, while it also gave the buses time to reload. These buses or “ships” took immigrants from Europe to our version of Ellis Island, the gym. 

In the gym, immigrants had to face processing and disease detection stages. All of the parent volunteers working for Ellis Island were required to speak in a different language, such as Spanish, French or Chinese, to throw the immigrants off and give the students a taste of what it is like to enter a new country without knowing the language. Immigrants faced deportation due to wrongly filled-out passports as well as disease. Dr. Diana Sood  helped “diagnose” these immigrants with typhus and tuberculosis. If an immigrant was deemed sick, they had to re-do the entry process. 

This happened to Stella Crazover, who said “Immigration day was so fun, but also so tiring. I loved how real this simulation was though, despite the obstacles.”  After immigrants went through the immigration center, they were sent to various jobs (classroom) to conduct whatever work the teacher saw fit. This included sweeping stairs, organizing novels and cleaning desks. Teachers were able to request immigrants to help around the class.

At the end of the day, immigrants were treated to a lunch to pay for all the hard work.“We were truly able to feel like how it would be to be an immigrant, and it was a great day,”  Crazover stated. 

Immigrants who were sent to the publications room had the task of organizing yearbook shelves, as well as names of people in the latest yearbook edition. Here, seventh graders Ulyana Velilla, Ariana Degata, Maraina Jimenez and Miguel Soto look at yearbooks and write down 10 ideas for the next yearbook. (Photos/Emma Colarte Delgado)

Seventh graders Shyam Muhunthan and Sanjay Singh organize papers for Profesora Silva during her fifth period AP Spanish Literature class. (Photo/Anya Pinto)

Seventh graders Mathew Azizi and Franscesa Zito wipe down white-boards in Dr. Pena-Lopez’s AP Calculus BC classroom. (Photo/Shreya Shanmugan)

Students walk from the bus to the gym to begin their immigration day process. In the gym, lots of paperwork awaits these immigrants after the long travel from the student center. (Photo/ Shreya Shanmugan)

As a junior, this is Emma’s second year in the Patriot Post and she’s excited to be the Assistant Online Editor this year. Outside of newspaper, she’s involved in and has office positions in Science Research, Key Club, FBLA, Model UN, and other clubs, including honor societies and her own nonprofit. In her free time, she enjoys reading, watching dramas on Netflix, listening to Taylor Swift, and hanging out with friends. She’s very excited to work on the Patriot Post this year!