Since the year 2000, over 500 juniors at Edison High School (EHS) have participated in the Ellis Island Experience, a two-day activity held by the school’s Social Science department. This year, the event began on September 29. Led by History teacher, Brian Boone, students played the role of immigrants entering the United States through Ellis Island in 1908. Students were given the actual names of immigrants but were tasked with creating their own biography.

“Getting students actively involved by linking themselves to the topic of immigration has helped students start to appreciate where their ancestors have come from,” said Boone.

Donned in period attire, students adopted foreign accents as they made their way through mock processing stations led by parent volunteers as immigration agents.

The start of their journey began as they presented their passport for a background check. Afterwards, they made their way through various stations including vocation, character, health and clearance. Throughout each station, students were asked a series of questions detailing their decision to leave their home country, religious beliefs, criminal history and if they had any infectious diseases, just to name a few. Students were then scored on each question asked.

Following the rigorous admission process, if students passed the minimum requirements from each station, they were then led into a room to take an oath of loyalty in front of the American flag. After successful completion, citizenship was granted immediately. Only a select few of “immigrants” were not granted citizenship, usually due to having an infectious disease.

“The Ellis Island Experience has been a long-standing tradition that has helped students begin to respect the process of immigration and open their minds given the current environment,” added Boone.