|By Carley Dangona
The Powder Mill Middle School History Club spent May 20 re-enacting the Revolutionary War. Students (left to right) Jordyn Demyon, Ian Schneider, McKinley Magni and Jason Zeppa share a traditional 18th century supper of chicken pie, rice pudding, baked beans and cornbread.Reminder Publications photo by Carley Dangona
SOUTHWICK Students at Powder Mill Middle School traveled back in time to the 18th century and spent a day in the Revolutionary War literally, with the help of the Ye Olde Lebanon Towne Militia Co. Members of the History Club donned costumes and re-enacted life as it was during the time of the American Revolution.
Caren Harrington, who teaches eighth grade world history and advises the club, said, "Learning about history in a first-hand manner changes the students' perspective." She said that one of the best ways to learn about history is to work side-by-side with interpreters such as the Militia re-enactors and to then reiterate what was learned by sharing it with peers.
She explained the benefits of the club and its interactive learning approach. "The educational history club gives students an opportunity to experience history in a unique way through academics, hands-on activities, storytelling, demonstrations, and re-enactments. Students study and learn about cultures and customs, hear stories about life of the soldiers, the roles of women and children," she said.
Harrington continued, "Students will develop their own 18th-century persona, and in the first person explore and document their journeys back in time by writing journals, diaries, or series of letters reflecting their experiences during the American Revolution."
Richard Eckert was one of the re-enactors on hand at the event. He has been meeting with the club during its Tuesday meetings since February, teaching the students about daily life as it was during the 18th century.
Eckert described the era. "It was really the turning point for North America. It was the age of the true craftsman, where families were self-sustaining," he said. "It's inspiring to see the kids reaction and excitement to the project." He noted that the students put together their own costumes, with one student attending a costume swap meet for re-enactors.
Eckert said that the club also took a fieldtrip to Historic Deerfield to help inspire the students and to better understand the role of an interpreter responsible for teaching history to onlookers.
Tenth grader McKinley Magni, a former Powder Mill student and History Club member, returned to assist with the event. "Because of my experience with the club, I became a Civil War re-enactor. I just fell in love with it. It's [the club] is a great experience that opens you up to many new opportunities." she said.
All students participating in the event agreed that the experience made learning history "more engaging and enjoyable."
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