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Union students explore their history

May 3, 2012
By J.T. Whitehouse , Town Crier

Poland Union second-graders held class at the Little Red Schoolhouse last week as they learned what life was during the founding days of Poland, Ohio. They not only dressed the part, but brought their lunches the same way their pioneer counterparts would have. The girls brought baskets and the boys used a neckerchief tied around a wooden stick.

As the school bell tolled last week, the students headed in doors for a not-so-ordinary day of classroom learning. They spent the day the old way at the Little Red Schoolhouse off U.S. 224 in Poland Township.

The visit to the Poland Historical Society's Little Red Schoolhouse actually brought to a climax what the students have been studying for the past month. They began learning about local history, which second-grade teacher Linda Watts said meets the standards that have been set for the second grade.

Article Photos

Photos by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Poland Union second-grade teacher Linda Watts demonstrates a thaumatrope, a toy that pioneer children would have played with, during her classes trip to The Little Red School House on Wednesday, April 25.

"They want us to explore history," she said. "What better way than by having them compare what it's like now to what it was like in the past."

Earlier in April, the second-graders got to attend a special assembly where Sue Holloway of the Poland Historical Society gave a presentation about Quailwood and White Saddle. She told students that Messenger Miller, his wife Ethel Hull Miller and their daughter Janie built a log cabin on a huge plot of land called "Quailwood" on Clingan Road in 1929. In addition to many other animals, the family purchased a beautiful pony with natural white markings that looked like a saddle, and they named her "White Saddle." White Saddle was born in 1903 and came to America from the Shetland Islands. She won many awards at the Canfield Fair and the Ohio State Fair. White Saddle died in 1940 and is buried on the property where she was raised by a loving family.

Accompanying Holloway at the assembly was Sara Hill Strock, a Poland resident with family ties to Poland's first settlers. She told the students about riding White Saddle in the 1930's with her classmates when they were students at Poland Union. She said Ethel Hull Miller wrote books about White Saddle and the society has a copy at the Little Red Schoolhouse.

After hearing the speakers, the second-grade classes of Watts, Lynne Stoll, and Phyllis Jeswald continued their historic study and last week each class took one day to travel back in time. They began their venture early in the week by watching an episode of "Little House on the Prairie."

On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday each class then dressed in pioneer clothing, packed their lunch the old way, and headed off to the Little Red School House where they held class like it was the 1800s.

The bell that started class was the old school bell that the teacher rang to call the students inside.

The students did their normal spelling and math lessons by using chalk and a slate. Lunch was held outside in the school yard and play was whatever a child could come up with. There was no playground with swings and basketball hoops. Several of the boys got a game of stick ball going, while others settled down for a game of checkers.

"We also got to learn a poem out of 100-year-old 'McGuffy Readers'," Watts said.

The students also got to make and play with some fun toys. They made a thaumatrope, which is a flat, round piece of wood that has a circle of string attached to the left and right side. On one side of the wood is a small drawing of a bird. On the other side is a bird cage. By winding up the wood with the strings, then putting pressure on it, the wood would spin rapidly. The bird would briefly appear inside the cage.

When the day was over, the students traveled forward in time, returning to Union Elementary and the end of a historically good time. Watts said the second-grade classes have been taking this field trip for about 12 years. She said they all enjoy learning about Poland's past and for a brief time, living it in one of Poland's first one-room schoolhouses.



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