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Ridge Park students' collages bring area history into the classroom

Ridge Park students' collages bring area history into the classroom

The walls in the art classroom at Ridge Park Elementary School are starting to look a little like the scenery along Germantown Pike, as more and more students create collages of stone buildings meant to replicate places mentioned in the book, “A Village Remembered.”

The book, written by two Plymouth Whitemarsh High School graduates, is being shared in classes across the district as part of Black History Month. With paintings by Carol Worthington-Levy and poetry by Dr. Arthur Turfa, “A Village Remembered” was written to raise awareness about the importance of the area’s historical landmarks and their ties to the Underground Railroad and Abolitionist movement (click here to read more about their book).

Students in Jennifer Fitzgerald’s art classes recently learned that the Underground Railroad was not a literal railroad, but rather a collection of homes, churches, and other structures where those escaping slavery could stay without fear of being returned to the South. Many of the students recognized buildings like the Friends Meetinghouse, Abolition Hall, and the Maulsby-Corson-Hovenden House (which are all at the intersection of Germantown Pike and Butler Pike). 

Following their introduction to “A Village Remembered,” the students were encouraged to make their own “historical” house collage based on some of the things they had learned. Scraps of paper were provided, some which had a stone or brick pattern for the walls and roof. Other pieces of colorful paper were available to make windows, shrubs and plants, and even the moon, since the Underground Railroad was often traveled at night. 

Third-graders Chloe Le, Sophia Gamboa, and Shoshana Ettman got to work cutting the paper scraps to make walls and roofs for their structures. The girls said the lesson taught them some things they didn’t know about the area’s ties to the Underground Railroad. Chloe noted it was valuable to learn about the history of the area since she might be able to use the information in a future project at Black History Month, while Shoshana said it might help her explain her community’s landmarks to someone else.

“Because if people come up to you and ask you, ‘What do you know about this?”, maybe you’ll know facts,” she said. 


Students look at their classmates' collages
A student smiles as she works on her collage.
A student's collage shows a house at night
A student cuts up a piece of paper for her collage
Ms. Fitzgerald shows students how to make a crescent moon out of a piece of paper.
A student cuts up a piece of paper.
A student uses scissors to trim a piece of paper.