Students are exploring heritage and history in a summer program that emphasizes hands on lessons in culture and history of Northern New Mexico.
For students like Ernesto “Chito” Valencia, the lesson the program provides is invaluable. “I love to learn where my place is, about where I live,” he said.
He reflected on the experiences of his grandparents, who used to tend sheep. “A lot of kicks and head butts,” he said with a smile. “Imagine how painful that would be.”
Chito was a part of the Hands on Heritage summer program, where he and 115 public school students in grades four through eight are learning through project based experiences about the agriculture, architecture, cooking, and prehistoric life of Northern New Mexico. In addition, students read to younger children, and apply math and science skills in projects such as a robotics competition. The summer program lasts for five weeks.
There are at least two field trips per week for students. Many of the kids said they do not experience many field trips during the school year.
“We don’t have the time, and we don’t have the money,” said Alma Rodriguez, an Aspen Community Magnet School teacher and one of the coordinators of the program. This makes Hands on Heritage doubly important, because “It is not like learning history in the classroom. It’s about learning history outside.”