VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Students at one Virginia Beach school are going back in time for a lesson on immigration.
At Landstown Middle School, classes recently spent the day going through a mock Ellis Island.
“We want the kids to feel how they felt back then: scared, nervous, excited, all of the above," said Student Activities Coordinator Colleen Klukey.
Klukey brought the exercise to Landstown Middle seven years ago. The students are assigned an immigrant and must remember their story and be versed in American history as they pass through legal and medical stations.
“It kinda brings the character to life and shows us what an immigrant was and what it could be like," said 7th grader Mia Gilbert. “It’s basically like what the immigrants went through, how they had to come to America, and how difficult it was, and how sad, exciting and emotional it was."
There’s even a baggage room decorated with clothes that belonged to an actual Ellis Island immigrant. It’s all part of bringing the Ellis Island story to life and remembering their hardships some 100 years later.
“We want them to empathize with these immigrants. We want them to understand how it felt going through Ellis Island, and if they do see the Statue of Liberty, how exciting it is to maybe be free, maybe be in a free country," Klukey said.