EATON — Eaton’s William Bruce Elementary School held its annual fourth grade Pioneer Day on Friday, May 19.
For weeks leading up to the event, the students are taught about proper pioneer wear and are encourage to dress true to the time. Then, on the day, they get to experience what it was like to be a pioneer, with not only accurate dress (in the sweltering weather,) but period activities such as candle making.
According to the teaching staff at Bruce, the school has been putting on this event for more than 30 years. Fourth grade teacher Bev Richardson said that over the last few years the event has not changed very much. Stations come and go, for example the Cope Center is a new 2017 addition, but for the most part the event is the same as it has always been.
The goal of the event has always been the same: it helps the students learn about something that is startlingly different to today’s environment.
“It’s fun for the students,” Richardson said. “It helps them see, with technology they don’t quite understand that you can’t just pick up your cellphone and call them back then, so it shows them what life was like before technology. They really enjoy it. They really love the different stations and the different aspects of it.”
Every station was manned by volunteers, and the groups volunteer their time every year to be at Pioneer Day. Stations included quilting, pioneer clothing, soap, fiddler, farm life, Cope Center, Preble County Art Center, fur trappers, candle dipping, horse, and square dancing.
Many students attend the event dressed in historic garb.
“We have spent a lot of weeks on studying pioneers and looking at their clothing and looking at how they lived back then,” Richardson said. “We look at what pioneers wore back in the old days and what to wear to dress up like a pioneer, so they get the experience.”
Richardson added, “I think Pioneer Day gives them a hands-on view. It makes the day more fun, but they’re still learning. We try to keep things hands on. I think it really helps students get a better understanding by looking at it and seeing it. You can read about it in books, but until you experience it you don’t really get the full grasp of it.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbelr at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH