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The past through pop culture

A look into the popular history elective

Spenser Johns

Staff Writer

November 2, 2022

Lights, Camera, Action! - Teacher Mark Ewing presents the final music video project to his second period class.

Teacher Mark Ewing created the senior-exclusive history of pop culture elective to teach students the cultural changing points of American history in an interesting, new way.

The class is taught with the mindset of being a stereotypical teenager during different decades of history. It is taught by exposing students to the music, fashion, movies, sports, and overall culture of these time periods. The idea of the class came to Ewing after teaching his US history class and seeing his student’s reactions to this similar teaching style for historical events.

“I really just started thinking—the things that I like and the things that I find kind of interesting, I think that students do too,” Ewing said. “My thought was that…wouldn’t it be cool if once they go through US history and they learn the facts and the names and those kinds of things, that they specifically take a deep look into the pop culture from the 50s up through the 90s.”

Ewing starts in the year 1955 when the “modern American teenager” was born through the birth of rock ‘n’ roll and the rise of stars such as Elvis Presley and James Dean.

“Starting from that point, we then look at the movies, the music, the fashions, the fads, the sports, the art,” Ewing said. “Again, all through the mindset of if I could teleport you back to 1962 and you were a senior…this would’ve been your experience.”

The curriculum rolls all the way to the 1990s, covering topics such as the grunge movement and Woodstock 1999.

“The reason we end in the 1990s is that’s all we have time for,” Ewing said. “We kind of run out of time with it being a one-trimester class.”

The class is an attraction to many students, just as Ewing had hoped. The curriculum has interested many students, such as senior Delainey Wallace.

“I took pop culture because I wanted another class that wouldn’t be any added stress to my schedule and I love Mr. Ewing so I knew it would be a good class,” Wallace said. “I also love music and music history and I knew I’d get a lot of that in the class.”

Ewing tries to make this class as fun and as stress-free as possible. Watching movies, recreating music videos, listening to music, and dancing are all important aspects of the class, but his favorite part of the class is what he does to wrap up the different decades they cover.

“My favorite thing is, honest to goodness, our celebration days,” Ewing said. “It’s just such a blast to see students wearing clothing from the time period, doing dances from the time period, doing hula hoops—just those little things where you experience just seeing students smile and seeing students having fun, and me having the opportunity to get to have fun with them. I mean, that’s the perfect class.”

Ewing’s passion for this class is evident. He hopes to continue teaching the class and for students to continue signing up for it.

“My goal and my hope is that all seniors at least consider taking this class,” Ewing said. “It’s an absolute blast to teach and I feel like it’s a blast to be a part of. Again I just like that opportunity to experience the past, truly get to recreate it, truly get to live it, and have fun and maybe recognize that sometimes it is okay to get out of our comfort bubble a little bit and just let loose and have fun.”


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