(New York, NY—June 17, 2016) Veteran High Tech Language Arts instructor Robert Dillon and Social Studies teacher Ronald Kliesh escorted sophomores to the famous Hard Rock Café to complete their final project on rock and roll’s connection to critical moments in history and American culture, announced Dr. Joseph Giammarella, Principal of High Tech.
Sophomores researched songs, wrote papers, prepared speeches, and created art relative to the political impact that these rock and roll songs had on America in the fifties and all the way through the end of the 20th century. For their projects, they chose songs that focused on such topics as gun violence, police brutality, race, religion, and gender discrimination.
“This project is rooted in a teaching philosophy that holds that students learn best when they connect with curricula that holds their interest,” says Dillon. “Obviously, popular music is one such point of connection.”
By touring the Hard Rock Cafe, the sophomores had access to hundreds of artifacts from famous rock and roll musicians. On the current site of the Hard Rock Cafe, the historic Paramount Theater once hosted acts such as Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and Buddy Holly. Using a Rock and Roll Guide, students learned how rock music has impacted their culture.
“We saw handwritten lyrics by Dylan, Hendrix, and Johnny Cash,” sophomore Daylen Ala, a resident of North Bergen, says. “We even saw Bo Diddley’s homemade guitar and many items from the groups associated with the British Invasion, like the Beatles.”
Dillon, who has been accepted into the Rock and Roll Forever Summer Teacher Workshop this summer, reminds us that this field trip to the Hard Rock Cafe accentuates the significant impact of bringing music into the classroom.
“Music is a gateway to substantive and meaningful exploration of a wide range of topics,” he adds, “especially in Language Arts and History, not to mention the Humanities, too.”