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Elementary School News

December 18, 2012


MRH Elementary “School as Museum” Exhibit Debuts Dec. 20 at the Gateway Arch.

museum of westward expansion bear statue/exhibit Through a collaborative partnership with Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, 426 second through sixth grade students from Maplewood Richmond Heights Elementary recently had a unique opportunity to learn about the roles and functions of National Park Service museum personnel and how they collect, preserve, document, exhibit and interpret museum artifacts. The students’ experiences were documented through a multi-faceted exhibit they created, called “School as Museum,” and starting December 20, the public will have the chance to get a first-hand look at their work when it goes on display in the Museum of Westward Expansion located below the Gateway Arch. The exhibit will remain on display through January 13, 2013.

Through a series of visits to the Gateway Arch and the Old Courthouse this fall, the students worked alongside NPS staff, exploring museum functions and processes, with the goal of learning more about topics such as the role of a museum curator, how museums collect and protect artifacts, how museum exhibits are designed and how the NPS serves as a steward of natural and cultural resources.

Based on their experiences, students from each grade level were challenged to develop class exhibits on one of five key learning objectives pertaining to museum artifacts. The second graders focused on the collection of artifacts, while the third graders demonstrated their knowledge of exhibiting artifacts. Meanwhile, students from the fourth, fifth and sizth grade classes focused on the preservation, documentation and interpretation of artifacts, respectively. 

“The complete ‘School as Museum’ exhibit represents a great achievement for our students, and we are so proud of the work they’ve done,” said Dr. Jason Adams, Principal, Maplewood Richmond Heights Elementary. “We are also very grateful to Jefferson National Expansion Memorial and the National Park Service for opening their doors to our students and giving them this amazing opportunity for first-hand, real-world learning beyond the walls of our school.”

St. Louis Arch Funding for this unique educational partnership between MRH Elementary, Jefferson National Expansion Memorial and the Jefferson National Parks Association was provided by the National Park Foundation through its “America’s Best Idea” grant program, which works to fund park projects designed to connect diverse populations nationwide with their national parks in innovative and meaningful ways. The Jefferson National Parks Association was one of 49 parks across the U.S. to receive an “America’s Best Idea” grant in 2012.

“As the winners of an ‘America’s Best Idea’ grant, we were challenged with developing a partnership that would provide a new population of individuals with a chance to personally connect with us,” said Julie Northrip, Director of Education for Jefferson Expansion Memorial. “These students from MRH Elementary represent the next generation of adults who we hope will continue to utilize and explore our grounds with their friends and families for many years to come, and it was very special for us to have the chance to give them an inside look at what the National Park Service is, and what we do. We are incredibly impressed with the exhibit they’ve created based on their time with us, and encourage the public to come out see their hard work first-hand.”

The Gateway Arch is located on the riverfront in downtown St. Louis. It is one of the many attractions in the Core of Discovery - downtown St. Louis’ attractions district. During the winter months, the Arch’s Museum of Westward Expansion is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Years Day.  For more information on the “School as Museum” event, visit here, or call the park’s education department at (314) 655-1615

The Core of Discovery was created by the partners at the Gateway Arch, which include the National Park Service; its cooperating association, Jefferson National Parks Association; and its park partner, Metro. The Core also represents a commitment by the National Park Service, Jefferson National Parks Association and Metro to work in partnership with their downtown neighbors to make the visitor experience even better.

For more information, contact MRH School District at (314) 644-4400.