Rosemary Koshiol and LeRoy Hillbrand kept the students interested with their stories related to the different exhibits. The section on the Native Americans, with a Tepi and the buffalo skeleton, as well as the medical section with a foot-powered drill, were especially captivating for the students. The kids also got to hear and play the pump organ, which had been donated by Rev. Paul Pratt, and enjoyed seeing the 1923 Model T.
After the tour, the students went back across the parking lot to the country school for a milk break and an old-fashioned spelling bee; followed by a math game called Buzz, which was based on the multiples of seven and four.
Art class came next with the students making drawings of their favorite item from the historical society museum. Their English lesson then consisted of a written thank you note to the historical society for making the day possible.
At noon, the students ate a sack lunch and played softball until 1 p.m. when they all went back in the schoolhouse to hear the guest speakers, who had volunteered to share their memories of the years they attended a country school, or taught at one. Mrs. Monica Barton, Mrs. Lucille Haag, Troy Caldwell, Brad Glenz, Mrs. Jan Nistler, Rick Thompson, Mrs. Juanita Moser, Pete Hoppe, Larry Gilford, and Bob Bowden all reminisced about their positive and nurturing experiences in the old first through sixth grade one-room school house. Cassie Hayenga, Maggie Hoppe, and Amy Vavrosky, students of Kim Gulbranson and Diane Welle also gave reports on early pioneer life.
If time permitted, the day culminated with a history lesson on the Great Sioux Uprising of 1862, and the beginnings of the city of Paynesville, which was based on the information found in the book "Paynesville, Year 125," published for the Paynesville Historical Society.
To finish out their hands on experience with the area's history, the fifth graders are also working on their own autobiography, tracing their ancestry and early life. The information they gather will be put in a book for them to keep.
With the help of those at the historical society, the guest speakers, JoAnn Spaulding, Mary Kottke, and the fifth grade staff and school personnel, as well as Bertha Zniewski who arranged, planned, and pushed for the project, the day was a successful and entertaining method of learning about area history firsthand.
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