History in a Box

Japanese farmers, hunters, and warriors of the 5th century traditionally packed their lunches in sacks or boxes for their work in the fields. The design resembled that of a seed box and consisted of multiple compartments to hold foods including rice, vegetables, or fish. Today’s parents, such as faculty member Justin Pepoli, typically spend precious hours per week carefully preparing and packing Bento Boxes before sending their children to school. The same care demonstrated by these parents is now trending with staged photos invoking central messages or themes told by a story.

Suffield students enrolled in Justin Pepoli’s 10th-grade US History class spent a few weeks identifying examples within American history that investigate one essential question: Under what conditions, if any, should the freedom of citizens be restricted? Beginning with the Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence, they collectively attempted to recognize if there is in fact a reasonable balance between freedom and security. Together they discovered former presidents including John Adams and George Bush who restricted certain freedoms and found citizens such as Paul Robeson who protested these restrictions in addition to citizens such as Carrie Nation who wanted to greaten them.

Students concluded the unit by being tasked to select a topic that argues or supports the prompted essential question. Topics included among several others Roe vs. Wade and Morse vs. Frederick, the 19th Amendment, Espionage Act of 1917, Home Security Act, Sedition Act of 1918, and Prohibition. After submitting their proposals and receiving approval, students researched their topics using Suffield’s online library databases. They were then asked to track their findings by adding eight items—historical photos or images of household items—to a digital Bento Box presentation which they would then individually present to their peers. The result was a significant analyzation between the balance of freedom and security.