Student Choice and The American Dream

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Juniors enrolled in Melissa Stephenson and Corey Truman’s hybrid US History and English III class have created innovative products to represent The American Dream on a personal or national level.

The project began organically. Stephenson and Truman knew they wanted to connect The American Dream tenet of the junior curriculum to immigration patterns, but the students wanted to take it a step further.

Students were so passionate about their own immigration and family history stories, they wanted to do more to understand immigration to the US. As a result, the end product to the immigration unit became very open. Students could use any avenue to tell their own immigration story, their family’s immigration story, or of the allure of the American Dream in general.   

Student Cole Kirkpatrick created his own children’s book.


Junior Cole Kirkpatrick works on his American Dream presentation for his hybrid US History and English III class.

He said, ”I liked writing the book a lot. I didn’t like writing before, but this was actually really fun to create.” Cole is pictured here with his favorite “First American” he researched and included in his book: Charles A. Lindbergh who was the first person to fly across Atlantic Ocean.

When asked why this was his favorite, he responded with, “because I hope these famous firsts inspire young readers to do something important, instead of waiting for someone else to do it. I don’t know what that thing is yet for me, but I want to be the first to do it.”

Stephenson particularly enjoyed coaching kids as they wrestled toward their final products. She said, “Kids were okay with trying something new and seeing that if it didn’t work, it was okay to change it up to be better, or to try something completely new. Kids were able to capitalize on their own strengths and flex muscles they don’t use as often.”