McHenry High School's student-written and -edited newspaper

The McHenry Messenger

McHenry High School's student-written and -edited newspaper

The McHenry Messenger

McHenry High School's student-written and -edited newspaper

The McHenry Messenger

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In their shoes

MCHS’s Honors American Studies class hosted Chautauqua, its annual meeting of the minds, before Thanksgiving break
MCHS’s American Studies class hosted their annual Chautauqua event where students perform a presentation on past or present influential people and topics.

A student sits in a crowded auditorium with “Abraham Lincoln” written on a big poster, with a large top hat and black suit and tie. The moderator asks Nikola Tesla about his opinion on electric cars. He answers. Then, when the questions are opened up to the public, that student dressed as Lincoln raises his sign to ask a follow up question. This is Chautauqua, and it has been a event at MCHS for for than a decade. 

Chautauqua took place on Nov. 16-17 in the Upper Campus auditorium. The original Chautauqua was first created and hosted in the 1920s and 1930s for kids in rural areas and less access to information. It was hosted in Chautauqua, New York, where they would talk about current issues of the day, they would do activities, and hosted entertainment events.

Regarding its relevance to MCHS, it is actually a replacement for a similar activity that Honors American Studies used to do, Model UN.

“American Studies used to do something called Model United Nations,” said Marla Currie, an American Studies teacher, “and that was started years ago and the idea of Model United Nations was where students would represent countries, and they would debate topics and come to resolutions on current issues.”

However, it was changed due to it being an American history class, and not a world history class.

“But a while back, the teachers of the class decided since it is American Studies and not a world studies class, that it should be more pertinent to just American issues and topics,” continued Currie.

Chautauqua is an event that lasts all day in the Auditorium where American Studies kids dress up as a famous historical or current figure, and argue points that their person would or do believe in, with skits and panels.

“Chautauqua is an experience to embody a figure in American History and go through a convention in their shoes and understand their perspectives, and from that you learn new perspectives on certain topics,¨ said Gavin Wuchter, an MCHS junior.

Chautauqua is a very good way to teach kids about civil discourse and trying to listen to other points of views, and confidently defend their own points.

“There are multiple benefits to doing a Chautauqua in school,” said Elizabeth Goy, an American Studies teacher, “but the main one is just the idea of a civil discourse.”

Chautauqua is an event hosted every year at MCHS that both students and staff enjoy.

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