People’s History Through Art: Projects by High School Students

Model of proposed stone sculpture in Los Angeles to honor the students who participated in the 1968 East L.A. Blowouts.

We saw the sculpture above on Twitter posted by high school teacher Hayley Breden in Denver, Colorado. It was one of more than a dozen inspiring and moving examples of her 11th and 12th graders’ end of the year assignments for an elective course on the Holocaust and other genocides.

She shared with us more examples of the student projects. They are all wonderful, from a mini-museum exhibit about the Ludlow Massacre to a CORE Freedom Riders tribute with a map and a bus.

Poster to commemorate the 43 Mexican college students who went missing about two years ago. The students were studying to become teachers.

Breden shared the assignment:

Students will be able to explain the causes and consequences of a past or current event through online research, writing a research essay, and creating an art piece to represent the event. The topic that each student chooses should be something that is (a) overlooked in most history classes, (b) denied or ignored by the perpetrator, or (c) an event or topic that people today avoid addressing.

Breden continued by describing the process and the student body:

We spent one class period researching possibilities for topics and brainstorming. In their research essays, students needed to explain the event or issue they researched including causes, effects, and broad historical context. They also explained past and current efforts to address the event or issue (or the lack thereof) and then described the artistic work they created and why they made the creative decisions they did.

These students are 11th and 12th graders at a large, diverse public high school in Denver, Colorado. Our students come from across the street and across the world. We have more than 50 countries represented in our student population, along with kids whose families have lived in Denver for generations.

See more projects in this Flickr album.

Student Projects

Please send us your people’s history class projects to share and inspire others.