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VIDEO: Students Travel Back in Time

October 8, 2015

Arlington Heights, IL –Today, fifth grade students hopped on a bus that doubled as a time machine dialed up for Colonial America.

Arlington Heights School District 25’s Historical Reenactment Day is a fall tradition, aimed at giving the students a first hand experience to the time period that lead to the Revolutionary War.

“It’s important the students have an opportunity to experience history, in addition to reading about it,” Science and Social Studies Coordinator, Melanie Zenisek said. “There is not a lot of accessible evidence of 1776 left over for us to interact with, so giving the students a tactile experience is invaluable to their understanding of the time period they are studying.”

Students were asked to prepare for the event by developing questions through research about the reenactors and time period prior to today. Astonished faces filled the crowd as Zebadiah, the carpenter displayed his wood working tools. Questions shot up as Charles W. Walker described his duties as a member of the militia and the weaponry that he was required to carry.

A warm fire burned in Christine MacLeon’s inn, as students huddled around, listening to her tale.

“My daughter visiting from Boston suggested I turn our home into a place of lodging for travellers,” MacLeon said in character. “With the approval of our village fathers I was given license to open the inn that now services the needs of both our village and travellers.”

Students were able to participate in many of the ten stops set up. Private Rowland Soule, the British Grenadier, taught the fifth graders the proper arms process with wooden, simulated, muskets.

“I really enjoyed listening to the strict ways of the British military,” one Greenbrier fifth grader said. “It was interesting to learn about why the British eventually failed in the war.”

Students were also able to play with toys from the frontier, giving them a glimpse of what play life was like for children their age at that time. The trapper drew interest as well, as students learned about the concept of trade and the early world of sales.

“My favorite station was the fur trader,” another Greenbrier student said. “I didn’t know that the fur was as valuable as having money back then.”

History is a pure passion for the reenactors, and they hoped to pass some of that interest on to the students. Every reenactor took questions during their presentations, but they were always answered in character.

“How do you spell gimlet,” a fifth grader asked, as he excitedly wrote notes on the carpenter’s presentation. 

“Oh, you’ll have to ask your teacher on that one,” Zebadiah replied. “I was never taught how to spell in school.”

Zebadiah went on to explain how an education on the frontier was a rare and prestigious experience for children.

Today, AHSD 25 students showed their prestige on the frontier developing their education through Colonial America.

AHSD 25 is thankful for the generous support from the ABC/25 Foundation. Without their help, this event would not have been possible.

Article: Adam Harris, Video: Tim Higgins
aharris@sd25.org