Waldorf’s Eighth Grade is the envy of many New Yorkers. At the end of March, all 20 members of the Class of 2020 will see the hottest show in town: Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. Based on Ron Chernow’s biography of the youngest founding father, this hip-hop musical is one of today’s hottest Broadway shows.
“When school started in September,” said Ms. Ellen Cimino, Waldorf’s 8th Grade Class Teacher. “I realized that the students and I have this amazing opportunity to study United States history through the biography of Alexander Hamilton and this amazing piece of musical theater.”
With the support of parents and a few class fundraisers, the plan to see the Broadway show was hatched and 25 tickets were purchased to a show that is now sold out.
The show and its lessons have been thoroughly incorporated into the eighth grade’s two Main Lesson block units on United States History. Students discussed the people and ideas of the American Revolution, Hamilton’s role in the American Revolution and his economic plan for the new country. During class, the students also learned the popular Broadway song, “Alexander Hamilton”. Supplementing the history class experience, Ms. Cimino approached Waldorf’s Music Teacher, Mr. Andy Fallu, and asked him to teach one of the other songs from the show to the students. Together, they settled upon “My Shot”, one of the Broadway show’s popular hip-hop songs.
“The song takes place after Alexander Hamilton moves to New York and describes his search for a thing to be a part of – a theme that resonates with many students at this age,” said Mr. Fallu, “It then goes into how Hamilton joins the movement for United States independence and how he meets Aaron Burr, Marquis de Layfayette and other revolutionaries fighting for independence.”
The students responded well to the combination of United States history and the decidedly younger hip-hop culture. At the recent February Assembly, they performed “My Shot” to a packed auditorium.
“In addition to seeing the show on March 30th,” said Ms. Cimino, “we will also visit the New-York Historical Society and see their exhibit on New York history that includes Alexander Hamilton as well as a an exhibit on industrialization.”