The Harbor History Museum’s Pioneer School Experience, led by Leann O’Neill, got a real treat last April. After all, what’s better than dressing up in costumes to learn about history? The kids loved it.
Young students from Gig Harbor Academy and Voyager Elementary enjoyed a historically-based fictitious reenactment where they had the opportunity to participate dressed in clothing reminiscent of the early 1900s.
The living history event was created by three University of Puget Sound students – Bennet Roper, Samuel Friedman and Ryder Marsden – that was part of an experimental education class the students were taking, in keeping with their museum studies. The students were required to engage with local schools about Blake Island. The history event revolved around smugglers, women’s struggles and the logging industry that was then booming at the turn of the century.
Children came dressed for school for the specific time period of the early 1900s and spent half the day in the restored midway schoolhouse with an actual school-marm, where they reenacted the school day. Following that, they spent time in the museum galleries. Ending the day was the launch of a boat on the east side of Gig Harbor and then a row across the harbor. After landing, they interacted about the play, why it was written, and Miss Bennet (her character in 1901) met them there. The kids had the opportunity to ask questions. The boat was made by Dave Robertson of Gig Harbor Boat Works, who watched the reenactment.
The reenactment was produced by the three students with O’Neill’s guidance, and tied in Gig Harbor as part of a partnership with the Harbor History Museum and Oars Northwest. It prepared them for a journey that begins in August with Oars Northwest down the Mississippi River.
Harbor History Museum’s Pioneer School Experience
Now the real fun begins! This phenomenal program, led by O’Neill, who is a retired educator with a masters in curriculum and instruction, is living her dream of helping young children grasp what it was really like to live so long ago at the turn of the century. O’Neill produces the historic programming education for the school at the museum where children can come on field trips. (Adults are always encouraged to come participate!)
By having the children engage and go to school in an old school house and even have a real school-marm, it sparks many questions from the kids.
“We have served 1,365 students over the last six years,” said O’Neill. “We look forward to children of all ages joining us!”