High School Cemetery Field Trips Bring History to Life for Teens

Halloween might be a good time for high schoolers to take a field trip to a cemetery to learn about history and more.
“I always tell them that ‘People are dying to get in there,'” says Chris Rolwes, a history teacher at Jefferson High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He takes his students on a field trip to a nearby cemetery near the end of each school year, after Advanced Placement exams are over, to learn about the architecture, culture and history of the burial grounds.
Most of his students think the trip is really strange at first, he says, but they seem to appreciate the experience later, after reflecting on it.
The students ​tour the cemetery and complete an assignment on the architecture of the burial ground, since the style of the cemetery markers often represent styles of decades past, he says.
One Twitter user told U.S. News he took students to a cemetery on a science-related trip.

Rolwes​ has also given his students a mini lesson on burial practices, and talks about how people are often as equal in death as they were in life – some residents of the cemetery have very elaborate graves, while for others, finding their grave could be a struggle.
And​, as much as is appropriate, he discusses national trends related to death and dying, like hospice care and the death with dignity movement.
“It’s not an easy subject to talk about,” he says. “I have a lot of kids that are …