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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : opinions : opinions June 30, 2016

2/9/2012 1:09:00 PM
My Turn: Historical traditions live on at Cornville’s Oak Creek School
Sandy Huson
Principal at Oak Creek School

Tradition provides an important connection with the past for staff and students at Oak Creek School. Learning more about the roots, heritage and core values of our ancestors, brings value and meaning into the lives of OCS fourth-grade students.

By studying the traditions behind our family’s heritage, students can obtain insight into present-day life. And participating in those rituals and traditions gives students a framework of reference and an even clearer representation of life in pioneer days.

For the past couple weeks, students in Mrs. Swenson’s 4th grade classroom have been participating in a simulation of pioneer life called Apple Valley Days.

Students are experiencing what it was like to attend school in a one-room school about 100 years ago. Students have adopted traditional pioneer names, are wearing pioneer clothing, learning what it is like to work with very little equipment, bringing lunch in baskets or tins, learning manners of “the day” and in general, understanding the difficulty of growing up in the 1800s.

Students are finding out that people in the 1800s had very different ideas about what was important to learn in school. Handwriting was one of the most important subjects. The simulation has helped make the transition to the past. Student roles were assigned with specific purposes in mind, using this opportunity to give students particularly challenging “life experiences” such as being the oldest in a family of seven children.

Students have learned about the past from reading diaries kept by people of the times. Staying in character, students are making diary entries and including details from the past. Students are writing about what chores are expected of them, what the classroom is like, what they do for fun, etc. They are learning about typical pioneer experiences, choices they might make and the consequences of those choices.

Students earn or lose “graduation” points in three ways: by following normal school standards of work and citizenship (penmanship, getting a perfect spelling test, talking out, fighting, etc.); by completing challenging tasks (peer tutoring classmates); and, by choosing “fate cards” (which tell of good and bad things that might have happened to boys and girls in pioneer schools – ie. Your beautiful handwriting is displayed in class…add 15 pts; You dipped a girl’s braid in an inkwell … subtract 5 pts). Points are added or subtracted based on time and effort given.

Near the end of the simulation, students will revisit some of the most interesting things they experienced during the unit. They will be asked to consider whether there are things about the 19th century schools that are better than today’s school … or are there things about today’s schools that are better than yesterday’s schools?

Being educated about different lifestyles and outlooks encourage interest, respect and understanding. The tradition of Apple Valley Days at Oak Creek School certainly serves to enhance the understanding of past cultures.

Community members, students and staff share an appreciation for this long time tradition. It has been a treat to see the excitement of the students’ faces each day as they greet me with a curtsy…. “Good day Mrs. Huson.”

Sandy Huson is the principal at Oak Creek School.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, February 18, 2012
Article comment by: Daniel Stockbridge

I participated in Apple Valley days about 13 years ago, however, not in Mrs. Swenson’s class. This was one of the most rewarding experiences provided to me at Oak Creek, and reading this made me extremely happy that they are continuing the tradition. Out of all of the educational "events" provided at Oak Creek, Apple Valley Days and Project Exploration (San Diego marine biology trip) are the two things that immediately come to mind when I think of my elementary education. Thank you to all who help to facilitate these programs!

Posted: Monday, February 13, 2012
Article comment by: What A Fabulous Experience

This is one of the coolest educational things I've read about in a few decades and I love it! Kudos to all involved, which includes the parents. We need to see what things came before us and I think this is absolutely a great 4th grade history experience. Lu Parker

Posted: Friday, February 10, 2012
Article comment by: Thank you Mrs Huson...

... for doing such a good job at Oak Creek. Your common sense ideas and down-to-earth educational values are a breath of fresh air.

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