Saturday, June 1, 2019

Hillside Students as Urban Planners - Visions of Downtown and the Waterfront

By Natalie Barry

This past January, Hillside teacher Dianna Clarke invited me to speak to the 2nd grade about Hastings history. I had a great time talking about early industry in the ravine, our waterfront factories, plus sharing “then and now” photos of important buildings from Hastings’ past. 

As I was walking out of Ms. Clarke’s classroom, I came upon some wonderfully creative dioramas of downtown Hastings, which were displayed in the hallway. I was so struck by these projects, I immediately pulled out my cell phone and took some photos. When I emailed Ms. Clarke to ask what they were all about, she explained:

We’ve been learning about different types of communities, including our own, and what goods and services are available in our community. Students were asked to pick a business on Main Street or Warburton Avenue to create and then present to the class the goods or services the business provides.  Students were so excited to share what they had learned!  Their projects looked fantastic when we put them all together to recreate some of the streets in Hastings. 

With the permission of Amy Cazes, the principal of Hillside, I’m happy to share my photos of the diorama projects put together by Ms. Clarke’s class. If you look closely, you can see that the kids included some incredible details, including conversations going on within an establishment (see Sakura Garden) and others that show goods in the window (e.g., Hastings Own Bagel). And we have a very realistic depiction of the Village Balloon and Flower Shop, which closed its doors a few weeks ago. 


Ms. Clarke also told me about the final segment of the 2nd graders’ studies concerning Hastings history. Here’s what was involved:

Lastly, the students studied the Hastings waterfront. They looked at the past land use of the waterfront and were asked to create a plan for the current empty space. Students were very thoughtful in their planning, thinking of a plan that would benefit many in the community. There were so many fabulous ideas, including an amphitheater to hear bands and performances, a hotel for visiting family and friends, an aquarium that highlights the Hudson River, and the first In-N-Out Burger on the East Coast. Students learned a lot about their community and are invested in the future of the waterfront.  
The following are some of the drawings done by Ms. Clarke’s students, which depict what they envisioned on the waterfront. I hope you’ll agree that they did a terrific job of imagining what could be possible for the future of village!

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