National Agents Alliance, a local insurance marketing organization, will open its doors to a large group of fourth grade students Wednesday, serving as the Ellis Island immigrant processing center for the children who have been learning about immigration. The “immigrants” are students at Burlington Christian Academy. They will arrive at National Agents Alliance by bus and then be walked through various processing centers, including physical and mental health screenings.
The field trip is designed to help the students understand what immigrants coming to the U.S. experienced when they arrived at Ellis Island, the main entry facility for immigrants entering the U.S. from 1892 to 1954.
Some students will be quarantined and not permitted to enter the U.S. upon the first screening.
All of the students will arrive in costume, carrying the bags that they brought with them from their native country. The event is part of a bigger lesson for the kids, who have each been given an immigrant name and a country of origin for the assignment.
“This is really a great learning experience for the students,” said Lisa Miller, a parent volunteer who will assist with the health screenings tomorrow. Miller’s daughter, Megan, is a fourth grade student at BCA. Megan will arrive at Ellis Island as a Russian Jew.
Many of the class assignments over the past month have related to the immigrant experience, including lessons in reading, writing, math and, of course, history.
Karen Kimbrell, one of four fourth grade teachers at BCA, spearheaded the project, which she has offered for several years at the school.
In all, approximately 70 students will participate.
To prepare for the incoming “immigrants,” National Agents Alliance converted its training and convention space into the Ellis Island processing center. Students will see the Statue of Liberty and will be greeted by Uncle Sam (who will be played by BCA principal Michael Brown).
Parent volunteers will be dressed in period clothing and serve as immigrant screeners.
Students will also be treated to lunch.
The first bus of students is expected to arrive at the processing center at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday, March 19. The event is expected to take about two hours for all students to move through the various screening locations.
NAA’s headquarters is at 1214 Turrentine Street in Burlington. It is just a few blocks from BCA.