Analyzing American History and Literature

Analyzing American History and Literature photo

As a means of connecting literature, historical events and music, students from Ronkonkoma Middle School were treated to a highly engaging in-school assembly, which culminated with a musical performance courtesy of a number of Ronkonkoma Middle School staff members and student-musicians.

Students first spent time in the classroom studying John Steinbeck’s literary masterpiece, “The Grapes of Wrath,” zeroing in on the book’s protagonist Tom Joad. Applying their knowledge of the novel, the students discussed why his family was forced to migrate West on Route 66 toward hopes of a new life in California. 

Curated by both history teacher Kenneth Lehman and interim Principal Joseph Licato, the students gathered in the school’s auditorium for a presentation which demonstrated how technology is rapidly changing, and the job market is being affected due to this shift. They circled back to their classroom lessons which focused on how Americans living in the 1930s were forced out of work due to mechanized mass production. The students were able to make the modern connection to how companies such as Uber are putting taxi drivers out of work due to the application’s ease of accessibility and comparatively low rates. 

As an additional connection to the afternoon’s central theme, a number of staff members and student-musicians joined forces to bring Bruce Springsteen’s hit song “The Ghost of Tom Joad” to life. The supergroup consisted of staff members Mr. Licato (guitar, lead vocals, harmonica), Dr. Frank Saladino (lead guitar), Mike Murphy (bass), Stacy Stollberger (trumpet, percussion), Elizabeth Pieket (saxophone), Nicole White (piano), Adam Reinkraut (classical guitar), along with student-musicians Katlyn Smith (violin) and Joe Saracino (drums). 

Click here to watch a video from the event.