By Ted Waddell
GRAHAMSVILLE April 10, 2001 - It wasnt your typical 4th grade morning.
Instead of reading, writing and a bit of arithmetic, Tri-Valley Central Schools 4th graders lined up behind members of the recreated 42nd Royal Highland Regiment, and to the spirited sounds of drum and fife, they marched across the street to the local church.
Billed as a Celebration of History, the innovative and fact-filled event was the brainchild of 4th grade teacher Keith Edwards and Carol Smythe, the Town of Neversinks historian. It was held Friday morning at the Grahamsville Reformed Church.
Part of the fourth grade curriculum is teaching local history, so we thought what better way to do it than to have community members teach the kids about the history of their community, said Edwards.
The kids always enjoy this kind of stuff, and thats the best part of an event like this, he added.
Smythe was on the front lines, as she told small groups of youngsters all about Chestnut Creek while the kids rotated between several history lessons on display in the church.
I hope this becomes a model for other school districts, said Smythe. People who love history always want to share it with young people to keep it alive.
The event was co-sponsored by the Town of Neversink, the Sullivan County Museum and the Daniel Pierce Library.
The folks who made history come alive for the local 4th graders included Loretta Ackerly (cemeteries), Pat Barkley (genealogy), Marylin Barr (the historic district), Donna Denman (Sullivan County Museum), Kathy Denman (the Denman family, one of the earliest settlers in the area), Gene and Fran Fuller (reservoir construction), John and Bernice Masten (Native Americans), Dot Muthig (making maple syrup), Carol Smythe (Chestnut Creek) and Wanda Terwilliger, president of the TVCS board of education (early schools).
In addition, Winnie Barner, Mary Jane Higgins and Carol Montana staffed a display showcasing the Daniel Pierce Library.
Members of the 42nd Royal Highland Regiment recreated vignettes from the life of a 1776 foot soldier. To the shrill sounds of the fife and the sharp crack of stick on drum, the re-enactors demonstrated musket firing, the use of sword and dirk, and daily camp life.
Bernice Decker Masten and John Masten belong to the Sullivan County Historical Society. A few years ago, they assembled a collection of Native American artifacts, focusing on native peoples who lived in what would become New York State, including the Lenape, the first people of Sullivan County.
Im back to Tunis of the Tuscaroras, said Bernice Masten of tracing her family roots back to the legendary Native American who escaped slavery in North Carolina.
He was one of the first who fled to this area, she added. I traced it back to my great-great-great grandfather John Smith, who married an Indian woman believed to be the daughter of Tunis . . . but thats not fact yet.
Cory McAbier goes to school in Deborah Lordis 4th grade class at Tri-Valley. His reaction to the celebration of local history?
I think its very fun, because when we were outside, a guy fired an actual musket and I got to hold a sword . . . [and] we had a couple of snacks, a corn muffin and a cracker with cooked maple syrup on it, he said.