As the year wound down, three Local & Legendary: Maine in the Civil War teams hosted major events related to their projects.
On November 19 at the Rumford Public Library, about 60 Mountain Valley Middle School students gathered for the first culminating celebration (and pizza lunch!) of the district’s 2014-2015 Quest program.
As part of this semester-long program, which offers an alternative curriculum every Wednesday, students read the Gary Paulsen novel A Soldier’s Heart and created projects based on Civil War battles.
At the celebration, students broke into discussion groups with local community veterans of the Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan wars, who had also read the Paulsen book. It was an extremely moving experience to hear the conversations. The students were well prepared with a variety of questions, including some tough ones for the veterans: Were you scared? Did you get bombed? Did you ever have to kill someone? For their part, the veterans–including the county sheriff and local members of the police force–took each question seriously and answered them honestly. It was a memorable afternoon for all involved. The program will take place two more times at the end of the next two trimesters.
To track the Rumford team’s Local & Legendary activities, “like” their Facebook page.
On November 20, Gifted and Talented teacher Jessica Kelly’s 20 students from Scarborough Middle School took a field trip to Scarborough Historical Society as the next step in their involvement in Local & Legendary.
Four members of the historical society facilitated the 90-minute visit. In addition to learning about how the society members have been researching Scarborough’s role in the war, students broke into groups to view and talk about photographs, letters, and objects in the society’s Civil War collection.
They also were able to handle reproduction artifacts loaned by a local re-enactor. The Civil War soldier’s infantry kit fascinated the students, particularly items like the overly large toothbrush, which led one student to announce, “No wonder their teeth weren’t very good!”
Finally, they learned about and viewed a number of tintypes as a segue to receiving copies of their community read book, Picture the Dead, by Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown. The book makes heavy use of faux Civil War-era primary sources–including photographs, letters, and newspaper clippings–in a scrapbook format. Jessica asked the students to keep track as they read of how the primary sources are used to tell the story, as well as the Civil War’s impact on the homefront.
On December 4, the Bethel team held the public kick-off for their project with the annual Howe Lecture, named after retired Bethel Historical Society director Stan Howe. About 200 community members and students attended the event.
Delivering the talk at Gould Academy was one of Maine’s foremost Civil War experts, and consultant to the Local & Legendary program, Tom Desjardins. Tom focused on Maine’s contribution to the war effort and the effects of the war on Maine. Gould history students who attended the talk were overheard later enthusiastically retelling some of the stories Tom shared.
To round out the event, Civil War era music played during and after the talk, and library trustee Tom Davis and his wife, Ann, shared a variety of Civil War desserts and foods they had made including johnnycake, apple cider cake, and even authentic hardtack.
Attendees also took home a bookmark announcing the 2015 community read activities, which will take place January-May. For a full list of those events, check out the team’s team’s Facebook page.
The two remaining teams in the 2014-2015 cohort, Jay/Livermore and Pittsfield, are busy planning their events to take place after the first of the year. Stay tuned for more details as the calendar turns to 2015!