Eighth grade students (and their parents) recently transformed the gym at St. Regis Catholic School into colonial Williamsburg, Va. in a collaborative effort to learn about 18th Century life by using 21st Century skills.
Broken up into groups, students researched a specific skill or trade common during colonial times, and then worked together to design a presentation and live demonstration of how and why that skill was essential. They dressed the parts as well, donning the slacks, dresses and head gear of the era.
"There's no question we're the most important skill," boasted 'Wheel Right' Kyle Callaghan. "People depend on us to make wheels, and without us, there would be no plows for farming, and transportation between towns would be extremely hard."
While she respected her classmate's opinion, Grace Fischer plead her case for basket makers.
"That is an important job, but without us they'd have nothing to put their tools or products in," she said. "There were no plastics then, or bags big and convenient enough."
The project, now in it's sixth year, helps students experience a piece of history while at the same time introduces them to concepts of the modern workplace, said project coordinator Carole Ogurek.
"They get a taste of the tools of the time and lifestyles of colonial Willamsburg, which was the capital of Virginia," said Ogurek, who teaches American history. "But they're also building important skills. In the working world, they'll have to work collectively with other individuals and learn how to apply different talents to different tasks."
The event was open to the community for half of the day, and then open for tours by younger students at St. Regis. Parents also participated in the collaborative project, spending many hours baking and cooking traditional, colonial meals, and creating the elaborate scenery.