Prague Spring-global education


Since 1990 public school students and their teachers from Newton have travelled to Central Europe to meet and work with their counterparts around issues of urban and rural environments, cultural and political change, the arts and literature, human rights concerns and the disturbing legacy of the Holocaust.

Based in Prague they ranged into Slovakia and far and wide in Czech lands, three weeks each summer, hence, the program’s name—Prague Summer—with the allusion to and identification with the bold democratic attempts of 1968.

By 2000 Newton North High kept to its summer explorations while Newton South High created a separate, shorter program—Prague Spring—running nine days each April, adding a day in Amsterdam and concluding with three in Berlin.


Developed and overseen by a group of Newton South History & Literature teachers, Prague Spring has included Mr White, Mr Rinaldi, Mr Murray, Ms Balachak, Mr Kozuch, Mr Bleiwas, Ms Scott, Ms Gordon, Ms Braman and Dr Cohen. In co-operation with students and teachers from public and independent schools in Amsterdam, Prague, and Berlin; professors and staff from Charles University, the State Jewish Museum, and the Czech Technical University. The 2010 program is also in collaboration with teachers and students from Weston High School.

Prague Spring 2010 program co-ordinators are Mr Rinaldi, Ms Braman and Mr White for Newton South, Mr Jim Murphy and Mr Anthony Parker ( Principal ), Weston High School.

The program is open to all but, particularly, to those South students in Sophomore through Senior years; students in History & Literature; Journalism & Communications; AP European History; American History & Literature. Staff from both school newspapers, The Lion’s Roar and Denebola, have participated.


Currently (2010) is focused by the Czech Republic and the 1000-year old city of Prague but  also with significant encounters in Amsterdam and Berlin. The program explores materials & locations relevant to the Newton curriculum, arts and music.

Socially and politically, students investigate the Velvet Revolution (and Velvet Divorce), issues of tolerance, resistance to state and personal oppression, democratic theory and practice. They make intellectual and experiential excursions to music halls, museums, theatres, galleries, and scenic and historic sites such the towns of Prague and Terezin concentration camp. Centuries of architectural change and the changes in how structures have been used—including the naming and re-naming of streets and buildings—make their way into notebooks and newspaper articles.

Interviewing, oral history, multimedia productions of meetings with Dutch, Czech and German students and teachers, journalists, politicians, artists, film makers, musicians—including average folk, Cold War survivors, and engaging with kids of their own ages and interests—are also central to what we do.

As preparation and alongside a dozen Workshops, Prague Spring students study maps and and work through statistics. Texts include The Diary of Anne Frank,  Heda Margolius Kovaly’s Under A Cruel Star, Dominika Dery’s Twelve Little Cakes, and Fred Ulman’s Reunion; works by Masaryk, Kafka, Kundera, Helmut James and Freya vonMoltke, and Czech dramatist and recent Czech president, dramatist and public intellectual, Vaclav Havel.

Students also have site visiting opportunities in Amsterdam and Berlin which often include: the Rembrandt Centre, Reiksmuseum, Anne Frank haus, vanGogh Museum, Dutch Resistance Museum, as well as the Berlin Wall, Unter den Linden, Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag, Olympic Stadium of 1936, Bendlerblock and significant Widerstand sites, Jewish Museum & former East Berlin Stasi headquarters and Archives.


About Prague Spring - Newton, Massachusetts USA