Olentangy Valley News

History today

Students' fervor for history impresses

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A few members of the Powell Liberty Historical Society were invited to view history projects at local schools in recent months. We were impressed with the creativity of the Wax Museum program for third, fourth and fifth grades at Village Academy and the extensiveness of the Civil War projects by eighth-grade students at Liberty Middle School.

For several years we have toured the Wax Museum set up in the classrooms of Village Academy. In February, we heard from famous Ohioans such as John Glenn and Orville Wright. Famous presidents included William H. Taft, who, of course, was from Ohio. Both boys and girls portrayed famous women. Among those featured were Harriet Tubman, Sonia Sotomayor, Helen Keller, Marie Curie and Michelle Obama.

Costumes and wigs were abundant. Pillows filled out the clothing of those who portrayed some of our larger presidents. Students presented their research and also made posters. One student created a colorful, larger-than-life-sized cutout of poet Maya Angelou.

Village Academy has generously donated all the proceeds from those donating to the Wax Museum to the historical society. Several students participated in our Good Ol' Days: Revisiting the 1800s and Early 1900s event last September, and others will be on stage at this year's event on Sept. 6.

On May 6, we joined Liberty Middle School teachers Danielle Gillespie, Joe Cherubino and Jared Mills in evaluating the eighth-grade students' Civil War projects. This program was developed six years ago with students receiving grades in social studies and English. There were more than 275 displays in the hallways and library, and the variety of topics chosen was extraordinary.

Posters with the students' theses and facts were elaborate, and some were interactive, with, for example, Alexander King developing a quiz to take on Jefferson Davis (fourth place) and Mattie Lyall directing visitors on how to draw Abraham Lincoln for a political cartoon. Famous Civil War photographer Mathew Brady was showcased particularly well by Zach King, who used a script he prepared for a video to highlight the work done by Brady. Elie Fallieras chose a project involving a local site, Camp Chase in Columbus.

Women's fashion was a popular and well-done topic, with Molly Van Gorp receiving first place and Hannah Gereb receiving fifth.

I had the opportunity to speak with Hannah, who was putting final touches on her display when parents, siblings and grandparents filled the halls to see the projects. She featured a period dress that she made with the help of an aunt, following an historical pattern from Butterick. The fabric she used closely resembled the dress pictured on the pattern, and her display incorporated an old sewing machine.

Submarines and balloons with models, of course, earned second- and third-place awards from the teachers for Connor Osmond and Dominic Nappi, respectively.

Best of Show went to Payton Seats, who devoted his time to researching and reporting on the "Fighting Irish" in our American Civil War. Payton has been an avid Civil War buff from a young age, when his grandfather and a chance meeting with local re-enactors instilled a passion in him.

Beyond specific battles or important people, topics included not only music of the Civil War, but "The Art of Borrowed Music." Others discussed shelter and living conditions, disease, food, women who challenged traditional roles, the wealthy versus the poor, American Indians and more. The historical society recognized 28 students with awards.

As a seventh-grader studying the Civil War many years ago, I was thrilled to visit Appomattox Court House in Virginia, conveniently located near relatives, where Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered on April 9, 1865.

Reinforcing what is learned in school and encouraging learning by visiting historic sites really should be part of parenting.

With many sesquicentennial events occurring during the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, there is much to see and do. The Internet will help you plan a memorable vacation.

Currently at the Powell Liberty Historical Society, there is a Civil War display. Call 614-848-6210 to request a tour.

Carole Wilhelm is a member of the Powell Liberty Historical Society.

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