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Research Drives Published Essays for Remarkable MKA Middle School Students

Congratulations to two Middle School students whose eighth grade colonial research papers were published on the New Jersey Council for the Social Studies blog. Mireicy Aquino's colonial research paper, Sally Hemings' Legacy of Freedom and Motherhood, illustrates the life of Sally Hemmings who sacrificed her freedom for her children. Mireicy wrote, “Her story carries a historical significance and profound lesson about the human spirit’s capacity for resilience and love.” Logan Stovall’s paper, The Exploitation of Enslaved Women During The 18th Century Colonial America, is an expansive look into the lived experiences of enslaved women. She closed her essay by writing, “Given all that these enslaved women endured, we should respect and admire their ability to overcome such incredible hardships.” Middle School History Department Chair and teacher CherylAnne Amendola expressed her pride in both students and the work they completed, which was “well researched and beautifully written. Both papers are examples of thorough historical research by middle school students.”

MKA’s Research Cycle guides all research and inquiry at MKA, from Pre-K through twelfth grade, so this project builds upon prior research experiences at MKA and also prepares students to transfer their research skills across disciplines as they move through each grade. Logan, Mireicy, and all the eighth graders chose a topic of interest within a given time and geographic period. They developed their own research question and thesis and then went through the Research Cycle to prove their arguments. Producing the research paper was almost entirely student-led except for reminder lessons about how to write a thesis and other structural parts of the paper. The students also had the added component of conducting field research for this paper, since MKA’s eighth grade travels each year to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello and Colonial Williamsburg in the fall. MKA’s longstanding commitment to engage with these external partners allowed students to bring questions and curiosities about their topic of choice to find out more and use interviews with docents, art, and other material culture to draw conclusions.