ENCOURAGES STUDENTS TO QUESTION SOURCES AND DIVE DEEP INTO THEIR RESEARCH
This year, 8th graders researched one of six constitutional issues: abortion, hate speech, immigration, affirmative action, gun control, and capital punishment with their 8th grade history teachers Julia Blount and Perry Degener. For each track, students interviewed attorneys, advocates, judges, congressional representatives, and lobbyists (including several GDS parents) who are experts in their fields. Students then presented a position paper that described the history of their issue and summarized both sides with as little bias as possible, before arguing their own perspective. David Leary (parent of Sarah Leary ’23) chaperoned the gun control group. “What stood out to me was the comfort, preparedness, and poise of our students as they respectfully questioned those who advocate on both sides of the issue,” he explained. “It's not every person—much less every young teen—who can pull this off, and it’s one of those special skills that GDS nurtures so well in many aspects of its program. All together, this project is quintessential GDS. It brings together amazing classroom teaching and research with real-life experience. The result goes well beyond students learning about a particular issue. They learn how to conduct detailed research, use that research to analyze a complex issue, and then engage that issue head on.”
Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut responds to questions as students take notes.
they have strong gun laws. By contrast, Eugenio Weigend quoted rates instead.” During one interview, 13 8th graders sat around a conference table with Senator Christopher Murphy of Connecticut, questioning him on gun control. Experiencing Hill Day for the first time as a trip chaperone, GDS Middle School Learning Specialist Cristina Watson said, “I found Hill Day to be a powerful example of the way GDS values the voices of children and prepares students to participate respectfully in civic dialogue. I was also impressed by how knowledgeable our students are and with how wellprepared they were for this experience.”
Students met with Olivia Warren, Law Clerk for Justice GDS Parent Ketanji Jackson, U.S. District Court for DC.
Whether meeting with Brandi Graham from the NRA or Eugenio Weigend from the Center for American Progress, students demonstrated keen attention to how arguments were made and which lines of reasoning were most persuasive to them. “Brandi Graham talked a lot about how gun control laws sometimes make gun crimes worse,” said Ben Stern ’23. “That was an awakening for me. She cited California crime, saying the amount of crime is extremely high even though
GEORGETOWN DAY S SP R I NG 2 0 1 9
Advisor Felipe Moltedo snapped this gem during the students' visit to the National Rifle Association.
For decades, Hill Day at GDS has helped Middle School students think critically and communicate their wellestablished views clearly and powerfully—while also treating the opposing viewpoint with the same amount of effort and respect.
MIDDLE SCHOOL’S HILL DAY