Illinois News

Students get hands-on presentation about past

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Sep. 14, 2018 10:55 am

MENDON, Ill. -- Central Middle School fourth-grader Evan Walker thinks it's fun to learn about the past.

"It's interesting to learn history," he said, and living at the turn of the 20th century, "would be pretty fun."

Evan got a taste of the past at School Day, sponsored Thursday by the Adams County Olde Tyme Association.

Evan's classmate Sophie Kramberg said, "It's pretty cool."

Fourth-graders and home-schooled students visited the round barn exhibits, a one-room school, a log cabin and a print shop before getting some hands-on experience with work done on the farm.

"Kid" power operated a press pulling juice from sorghum plants, which would have been cooked down over an open fire into molasses. Evan thought the juice tasted like grass, but St. Dominic fourth-grader Ryan Venvertloh and his classmates though it tasted sweet.

It's important to know about the past because "back in the 1900s or whatever, a lot of people used all this stuff for a living and to keep people moving and growing," Ryan said.

Olde Tyme Association President Willie Venvertloh said the annual event helps bring the past to life for students.

"They should be able hopefully to take away from it how Grandpa and Grandma had to survive on the farm and in rural life, how they had to work so hard to provide food for their family," Venvertloh said. "We show how the kids grew up and went to the one-room schoolhouse."

About 160 students turned out for the event, held at the Adams County Fairgrounds, with more than 30 volunteers and FFA members helping bring the past to life.

Alison Myers, a fourth-grade teacher at Central Middle School, said, "It's a good experience for them to learn how things were done years ago -- things are so much easier to accomplish today -- and to get an idea of the advancements in farming and living and what school was like. They're really enjoying it."

Central FFA member Derek Griggs helped line up students along a tree branch used to power the sorghum press and walked with them while Dan Clair explained the process involved. Students tried shelling corn, which 9-year-old Silas Schaller, a home-schooled student from Quincy, thought was fun but hard work.

Kathi Johnson, a teacher at Quincy Christian School, brings her students to School Day every year. "There's so much to learn about what it was like living back in the 1920s and '30s," she said. "It never gets old for me."

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