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Beyond the Classroom: Exploring Historic Lawrence

Beyond the Classroom: Exploring Historic Lawrence

Seniors enrolled in American City: Rise, Fall, Rebirth, a course designed and taught by  Mr. Matthew Joyal '08, took a driving tour of the historical sites of the City of Lawrence, paying particular attention to sites connected to the Bread and Roses Strike of 1912.

This senior-year elective is unique to Central Catholic and based on a course curriculum and resources developed and collated by Mr. Joyal. The course focuses on the major trends of American urban history, often using Lawrence for analysis, comparison, real-world experience, and community outreach.

One of the tour guides was Mr. Mark Svendsen, a Central Catholic teacher who serves on the Board of Directors for the Lawrence History Center.

Ms. Jeanne Burns, Assistant Principal, and Mr. Joseph Lynch, Social Studies Department Chair,  also contributed to the learning experience.

The students explored various parts of the City, including the mills, original immigrant neighborhoods, the downtown commercial district along Essex Street, and other major sites such as City Hall, the Common, and the Ayer Mill Clock Tower.

Photo above: students standing along the Merrimack River at the Great Stone Dam, which created the water power for the city's factories along the North and South Canals.


About American City: Rise, Fall, Rebirth

This full-year, senior Social Studies elective focuses on the urban and suburban history of the United States from the early-1800s to the Present. Students will have the opportunity to work closely with local historians and community leaders, particularly regarding the history of the City of Lawrence. Major topics addressed in this course include: public health and epidemics, urban disasters and public safety, labor movements and strikes, organized crime and political corruption, suburbanization, gentrification, and gang violence.


Thank you to Mr. Matthew Joyal '08 and all of our faculty and staff for making these types of learning experiences possible and continuing to challenge students and enhance coursework by going beyond the classroom to offer additional perspectives and insights.

Central Catholic High School
A College Preparatory High School of Excellence in the Marist Tradition

Founded by the Marist Brothers in the heart of Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1935, Central Catholic High School enrolls 1,200 students from over 60 cities and towns and several countries. Students come from diverse backgrounds to form a caring community of faith, learning, and service. They advance to college in overwhelming numbers (nearly 100%) and move on to successful careers and positions of leadership in government, business, industry, academia, and professions.

Central Catholic High School is fully accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

For more information, please visit, call 978-682-0260, or email

Mission: Central Catholic High School makes Jesus known and loved.
We educate the whole person for college and for life, with particular care for the least favored and those in need.