FDR Inspiration

On May 8, 2014, history teacher Stephen Hanson and his troop of approximately 110 sophomore students made the annual trip to the FDR Presidential Library, in Hyde Park, NY, with hopes of a hands-on experience that would teach them of the life and times of President Roosevelt. It was a daytrip that lasted the entire school day: ultimately students experienced Roosevelt’s life as it transitioned from boyhood to presidency.

While the FDR Presidential Library is a museum, it’s different. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt first established plans for a place to store his files and memorabilia, he had in mind an institution that would reveal both his personal life and expose the ways in which the government works to the public. This mentality created a basis on which the library would be molded, and it is this imperative that has kept curious audiences coming to the museum to this day.

“The library is always accessible; they always rotate the displays, so there’s always something new to see every year,” Mr. Hanson said.

Having issued permission slips more than a month prior to the actual trip, Mr. Hanson wanted to ensure that no student would miss the opportunity. He was excited, and as the date of the trip approached, the same anticipation he resonated was shared among the students.

“This trip will be an eye-opening experience to see a whole new perspective of history. Instead of staring at a book all day, we’re applying the information we learned through visual means,” said sophomore Radha Tummalapenta before the trip.

“Even the bus ride itself will be fun,” sophomore Ankit Shingala added enthusiastically.

At the Library, students were split into two separate groups, touring different parts of the grounds for about two hours. One group visited President Roosevelt’s graveyard and mansion, while the other toured the main exhibits that showed Roosevelt’s journey to the presidency.

“My favorite part was the house because it helped me imagine President Roosevelt in real life,” Yea In Kim said. “It was personal. It helped me picture what kind of life he lived, a flashback. I imagined him eating, doing his work, being with his family, and I saw him,” added Yea In thoughtfully.

Later Yea In expressed how the experience as a whole made an impact on her.

“I learned not only about his presidency, but also about his life. It felt like a personal one on one experience,” she said.

From this trip, students happily experienced a bit of living history and their excitement is what keeps Mr. Hanson energized to make the trip year after year.