For Jayne Pardys, a passion for history arose all of a sudden last year when a course she was taking during her junior year on “Philadelphia History” led her to a project that hit very close to home.
Jayne created a prize-winning documentary on the role that the Germantown Jewish Centre played in halting white flight in the early 1960s and promoting the successful racial integration of West Mt. Airy, the neighborhood where she lives and the place where her family has deep roots.
“I was able to reflect and to really understand the culture around me and how West Mt. Airy became known as one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Philly. I’d always known there was something unique about where I had grown up, but I never really understood it.
“That’s what pushed me to continue my project, this discovery of my own self, my own history, where my parents grew up, where my grandparents lived in this neighborhood. I was really passionate about this project, which made me love history even more. I could see how I could use history to understand who I was,” she said.
Since then, Jayne has been a champion of connecting history to current events. “By using history, we can ask, how can we learn from this? How can we change the future? How can we do better?” she said. “You can learn a lot from history.”
Jayne has come late to this passion. She fell in love with another deep interest — dancing — when she was just 4 years old. She found that the habits and skills she has developed over the years as she pursued ballet and modern dance — time management, dedication and hard work — also helped her with the National History Day project, which went on to win first place in the region and second place in a statewide competition.
In college next year, she hopes to find a program that will allow her to combine her two passions. She expects to major in history or gender studies. After that, she wants to be able to travel the world and help support women in societies where their rights are more limited than in our own.
“I want to keep learning,” she said. “I want to connect them all — history, social issues and current events. I want to be part of the world that’s changing. I want to use my voice.”
The hallways at Abington Friends are brimming with students who are on a journey, exploring fresh ideas and pursuing deep interests as they search to find their places in the world. Their eyes shine as they talk fervently about wanting to learn all they can in a field of academics, athletics or the arts.