Italian History Comes to Life with KO's Own Work of Art

If you build it they will come, and not to mention, it most definitely makes things more fun! Students in Upper School History teacher Stacey Savin’s Humanism and the Renaissance elective have been taking a deep dive into the art and sculptures of the Italian Renaissance. Rather than just look at images of these historically significant works of art, Savin changed up the approach to bring a hands-on, collaborative project and allowed students to build a replica of them. 

After a refresher on ancient Greece and Rome and a dash through the “Middle Ages,” the class concentrated on Florence, the cradle of the Renaissance and Rome. The students made a clay model of the city and a timeline with images that covered the entire classroom wall. Through multi-colored slabs of clay, students brought to life iconic landmarks like the Colosseum, Castel Sant’Angelo, and San Pietro in Vincoli. But it didn’t stop there. No detail was overlooked in the re-creation, accenting these beautiful relics with miniature clay replicas of obelisks, piazzas, Trojan columns, and tombs. It was a unique and immersive way to bring home all the material they were learning about Italy and its lengthy history. 

The new fall elective, Humanism and the Renaissance, focuses on this period of unique flowering of intellectual, cultural, and artistic achievement that occurred in Italy in the 15th and 16th centuries and spread to the rest of the world. The course was designed to investigate the causes and consequences of the Renaissance and the fascinating and talented individuals who made their mark on history. 

Alongside their study of the places and statues in these storied cities, students examined writers Dante, Petrarch, and Machiavelli and artists such as Giotto, Ghiberti, Masaccio, Brunelleschi, Botticelli, DaVinci, and Michelangelo. They also learned about Florentine economics and politics -- the guilds, popes, merchants, nobles, loyal citizens, religious fanatics, and, of course, Medici bankers. Next, they will move on to Renaissance Rome for the remainder of the semester. 

In her passion for the country and love of its history, Ms. Savin, who has led eight KO June Term trips to Italy since 2007, will be leading her ninth trip -- to Rome, Florence, and Assisi this upcoming summer from June 12-22, 2022. For anyone that is interested in learning more, please contact, Ms. Savin at
Located in West Hartford, CT just steps from Blue Back Square, Kingswood Oxford is a private school inspiring co-ed day students in grades 6-12 with a college preparatory curriculum. Empowered students become clear confident communicators, resourceful problem-solvers, and ethical leaders. KO: where unlimited potential meets endless opportunities.
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