Encouraging students to learn about the world around them through different perspectives is one of the Davis Academy’s main objectives.
It is also part of an integrated unit of study in conjunction with the middle school’s comparative religion course. Seventh-graders will visit three holy sites for other religions: the Roswell Community Masjid (Islam), the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha Mandir (Hinduism) and the Dharma Jewel Monastery (Buddhism).
“We want to demystify some of things the students have perhaps come to understand about other religions and their practices because we believe we are grooming new leaders and want them to have those types of mind-sets and attitudes,” Davis Assistant Principal Jeff Rothstein said.
“We want the kids to be able to make connections between what they are learning in the classroom and the real world and inspire in them an inclusive mind-set,” he said. “There are similarities and unity amongst all of us, and we want them to make connections, open their minds and develop acceptance.”
The idea for the field trip developed after the launch of the comparative religion unit in 2017, which began with a viewing of “Life Is Beautiful.” The excursion follows fifth-graders’ visit to a Birmingham church and its Civil Rights Institute and sixth-graders’ day of learning with Queen of Angels Catholic School.
The seventh-graders will hear from religious leaders and congregants at each place of worship about similarities and differences with Jewish practices. Rabbi Micah Lapidus was instrumental in connecting the school to the holy sites.
After Davis, “most of the kids will go to schools which will have a lot more diversity than a Jewish day school, and being able to connect with people across various lines is an important human trait and characteristic we want our kids to grow up with,” Rothstein said.
As part of the unit, the seventh-graders also will view “Hidden Figures” on Friday, Jan. 19, visit the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and listen to a discussion among civil rights leaders.
“Integrated learning is part of who we are at Davis,” Rothstein said. “Our kids are our leaders, and we want them to understand different ideas and ways of looking at things that will help them as they grow to work with others. You have to have the emotional intelligence to accept different perspectives, and the field trip is another step in that direction.”