Students Explore How ‘The Sixties’ Influenced American Society
Students Explore How ‘The Sixties’ Influenced American Society
Posted on 02/07/2018

photoIn January, honors English students traveled to The Sixties and discovered how events shaped their lives today.

“One of the motifs of American literature is loss of innocence. America lost its innocence in the sixties,” said English teacher Terri Branson. “Through this project students learn how to research, present and enhance their listening skills.”

Her assignment requires students to conduct a presentation on the sixties. Branson writes topics ranging from space exploration to Barbie on the board. Students must select a topic from the board for their presentation. Their presentation must be ten minutes in length and include an interview with an individual who experienced the sixties.

“The rubric is designed to allow for the greatest creativity within parameters,” explains Branson.

Her simple rubric certainly inspires students to be creative. On the first day of presentations, a student presenting on Disney came dressed as Minnie Mouse. Another student carried a trashcan decorated with a sign reading, “freedom trash can” into the classroom.

A lot of work and preparation goes into the student presentations. The research phase of the project begins prior to winter break in order to give students time to find an interview candidate. 

photoJunior Kyle Dean was the first student to present. He began by displaying a circle with a cross through it. Dean explained how that symbol would become the sign of the Zodiac Killer. He shared with his classmates how the Zodiac Killer instilled fear in Northern California residents and sent taunting letters to the press.

“The sixties was a time of volatility and the peace movement was a response to make the world a better place,” said Dean.

Dean pointed out that while the Zodiac Killer’s serial murders ceased his impact on society has not.

“The Zodiac Killer has inspired new decoding systems, countless movies and even a meme in the 2016 presidental election,” said Dean.

photoJunior Natalie Grubbs researched political scandals of the 1960s for her presentation. Grubbs captured her peers’ attention with a mock press conference from the White House featuring President John F. Kennedy. In just ten minutes, she discussed alleged affairs with presidents, Lyndon B Johnson’s bad habit of picking dogs up by their ears, Ted Kennedy’s Chappaquiddick accident and Richard Nixon’s infamous Watergate scandal.

“These specific incidents instilled a deep distrust in presidents and government,” said Grubbs.

While some students were nervous to present in front of the class everyone agreed they enjoyed watching each other present.

“The presentations are really fun and entertaining,” said junior Claire Strysick.