Triton students re-enact 18th century lifestyles
BOURBON — Interest surged last Friday as STAR students at Triton Elementary School roared back into history. Proudly hosting their Revolutionary War environment, the fifth and sixth grade STARS (Students and Teachers Achieving Reading Success) explained their creations to most of the students and staff in the school. A “celebration” was the order of the day. What was being celebrated? — the end of the Revolutionary War, of course!
Susie Mullin, reading teacher, Title I Coordinator, and EL (English Language) specialist, explained the connection between reading and the revolutionary war emphasis.
“STARS are students in grades K-6 receiving special help in reading,” said Mullin.
“Because the fifth-graders have been reading at the same time their classmates are studying social studies, we make their reading support the social studies curriculum. We try to make their learning meaningful and fun,” she concluded.
“Fun” is an understatement considering this project.
“We started the colonial project last year,” said Mullin. “This year, we expanded it considerably.”
As visitors entered the school, they were greeted by costumed students at the front door. As classes left the reading room after touring it, the same students thanked them for coming and bowed/curtsied as they left.
Each class in the school received a special invitation from the STARS presented in the style and manner of colonial America. Almost the entire school attended the event, circling through the well-planned maze of displays.
Upon entering the room, visitors first encountered a welcoming sign beside a “crescent.” They learned that the crescent was a fire built in a basket on the top of a pole, which was the 18th century version of a street light. The fire had to be constantly replenished — a job for slaves of the day.
Then, a dining room table set with pewter plates and ceramic mugs was passed, giving a glimpse into home life of colonial times. This was just a teaser for the biggest surprise of all — a giant table-top model of a colonial village similar to Williamsburg. More than 20 buildings were displayed, each with an explanatory placard created by the STAR students. Raven Kuhn, one of the STAR guides, said that her favorite job in the display was putting down the dirt and rocks. She was also careful to point out which placards were hers. One teacher was overheard saying to her students, “Read (about) what an apprentice is. We’re going to talk about that when we get back to our room.”
Besides the buildings and landscaping, the display boasted a set of musicians playing, a drum and fife corps marching, horses and carriages, townspeople, two crescents with a slave lighting each, and the perennial town leaders standing and discussing lofty subjects.
A video of colonial Williamsburg was playing on the wall, and music from the period set the mood throughout. Heading back out of the room, visitors passed a long table set for dinner of the kind which might have been found in the house of the mayor or banker. One of the foods (available only to the STAR students) was a cheese wafer made from an actual 18th century recipe. Again, place settings were of pewter and ceramic dishes.
STAR students learned about colonial life, including the necessity of sprinkling sand on newly-inked paper to help the ink dry. (STARS thought at first that someone had spilled the sand by mistake.) They helped create the displays and explanatory material, and hosted the many visitors who toured their project.