Image Credit: Seth Ellis

Mount Ellis Academy Accepts 'Immigrants'

Students at Mount Ellis Academy in Bozeman, Mont., recently took a step back in time, experiencing aspects of early 20th-century immigration.

Over the course of one hour, students were "processed" through a mock up of Ellis Island. Dressed in their best immigrant rags, U.S. history students were herded through four stations, where they were grilled by inspectors on the status of their families, their professions and their health, ensuring everyone admitted was worthy. At the last station they were either accepted and sworn in to the U.S. or deported to their native homeland.

The goal of teacher Ian Bilinowich was to make the immigration experience personal for his students. "With the ongoing conversation about immigration policy in the United States, I think it's critical our students have a contextual understanding of immigration and its historical importance." He seems to have succeeded. At the end of the night, only two students were deported and all had a deeper appreciation of what many went through to give their families the opportunity to be free.

Featured in: June 2015