In June, Rock and Roll Forever Foundation founder Steven Van Zandt made a special visit to East Side Community High School in New York City’s East Village.
During his visit, Van Zandt joined a 12th grade student seminar entitled “Rock and Roll History of Postwar America.” The year-long course was structured around the Rock and Roll: An American Story online curriculum, and was co-taught by history teachers Ben Wides and Peter Da Cruz.
Graduating senior Miranda Gomez presented to the class on the evolution of the U.S. economy from the 1950s through the 1970s, and how changes in the economy were reflected in the music of the times. After a presentation that touched artists including Chuck Berry, the Beach Boys, Marvin Gaye, Edwin Starr, Black Sabbath, and others, Miranda opened the floor for questions from her peers. Van Zandt joined in on the class discussion, sharing his own first-hand accounts of such topics as the Watergate scandal, musical responses to the policies of Ronald Reagan, and the early development of Hip Hop culture.
Following Miranda’s presentation, Van Zandt met with a select group of students, teachers, and administrators to discuss how the teachrock.org materials were implemented in the classroom and what subjects should be explored in future lesson plans. The multigenerational group engaged in a broad conversation that covered protest movements before the Rock and Roll era, Latin influences on American popular entertainment, the changing culture of live concerts, and online music streaming.
The Rock and Roll Forever Foundation would like to thank East Side principal Mark Federman and teachers Ben Wides and Peter Da Cruz for bringing us into their learning community. We look forward to continuing our partnership next year.