The East Side Community High School sits in the midst of a lower Manhattan neighborhood peppered with cultural history. ESCHS history teacher Ben Wides and his students decided to engage the musical past of their neighborhood firsthand by participating in the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation’s “Sonic Highways in the Classroom” pilot project, which was done in anticipation of a full program done in partnership with the Dave Grohl-produced HBO Sonic Highways series.
Over the course of months, Wides’ students interviewed community members about the music they saw in the East Village as young people. Students then filmed interviews with musician Richard "Handsome Dick" Manitoba, Fordham professor Dr. Mark Naison, Giant Step founder Maurice Bernstein, and Hip Hop writer and illustrator Andre Leroy Davis. On December 6, 2016, Wides and his students premiered “We Loved it, It Was Ours: A Musical Oral History” to an audience of more than 50 students, teachers, the ESCHS principal and other administrators, as well as several people featured in the film.
Following the screening, RRFF Executive Director Warren Zanes spoke with attendees, highlighting elements of the project-based learning in which the students engaged while making a “Sonic Highways in the Classroom” documentary.
The RRFF extends congratulations to Ben Wides as well as his students Enrique Andino, Chelcie Boston, Brandon Garrett, Gustao Valdes, Felipe Pau, Elay Echevaria and Claire Toussaint for their work on “We Loved it, It Was Ours: A Musical Oral History.”
Other “Sonic Highways in the Classroom” pilot projects are currently underway in Tupelo, Mississippi, Louisville, KY, Pittsburgh, PA, Northampton, MA, Waldwick, NJ and Woodstock, NY. If you would like to engage your students with a Sonic Highways in the Classroom documentary contact RRFF Senior Project Manager Rolando Alvarado.