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Celebrating River Valley recreation; Part 3, A walk through history
RUMFORD/MEXICO- Historic walking tours, hiking up White Cap, cooking in the kitchen, playing old time games, all these activities and so much more were enjoyed by sixth graders at Mountain Valley Middle School during their year end study of the River Valley.
The middle school was hopping on June 12 with each of the sixth, seventh and eighth grade classes displaying their works from the previous weeks’ adventures. The halls were alive with anticipation of showing off what they had been up to.
For the sixth graders, drawings of gravestones and stories about the people who were once residents of the River Valley to scrumptious desserts made in ethnic cooking class, there was something for everyone to be excited about.
Students began their journey by touring the Mexico Historical Society, the Lufkin School in Rumford Center, and finished their first day with a walk through the Rumford Center Cemetery.
It was there, that the children were given cards with names of deceased citizens to find. They were instructed later at school that their project was to research the name and write a short biography about that person and make it as historically accurate as possible.
Ashlynn Conley noted, “I couldn’t find the grave I was assigned. The teacher even helped me and we couldn’t, so I had to go online and make up a story. It was pretty cool, but a little freaky that we couldn’t find the grave.”
The next adventure was lead by Principal Ryan Casey with a historic tour of the Greater Rumford Community Center. He took the students throughout the building, explaining the history, and even letting them in on a little evidence of paranormal activity.
They visited the Bangor Savings Bank building, which was once home to the Masonic Lodge and Odd Fellows meeting room. Students were impressed at the architecture of the building and how they could almost feel the presence of those people that once occupied the space.
Moving on to the Hotel Harris, sixth graders enjoyed cookies, compliments of Mum’s Bakery and punch, by Blayne McCallister. Students learned that the hotel now rents out apartments, as opposed to travelers so many years ago.
A tour of the Rumford Fire Station lead by Chief Chase was the next stop along their way, and then across the Memorial Bridge to the Carnegie Building, which houses the Rumford Public Library.
Students learned that the RPL is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. They were encouraged to visit the library throughout the summer and to see what great opportunities they’re able to take advantage of to keep their minds sharp for the next school year.
Continuing on, the classes walked the new scenic river trail to the Information Center, observed the reflection pool and the Edmund Muskie Memorial, and posed for a group photo at the feet of Paul Bunyan.
From there, they made their way down to Veteran’s Park for a picnic. Splitting up into a couple of groups, the students toured the former Central Maine Power building to end their day.
As the study unit went into multiple days, students had a choice of hiking, cooking, learning how to play old time games, or taking part in a historic walking tour, there was something for everyone.
A particular item of interest on display at the school were slide shows and photo journals of hiking adventures up White Cap and the Mexico Ledge.
Abbie Blauvelt, who was among the students who had hiked White Cap, noted, “I really enjoyed the hike. Once we got to the top it was really cool. I felt like I really accomplished something, you know?”
Those students who decided to try their hand at cooking, had their choice of Scottish shortbread with Lynn Gould, Lithuanian wedding cookies with Bob Labauskis, Acadian chaird, molasses cookies, and pizzelles with Sara Perry, or Italian homemade pasta and bruschetta with Beth MacDonald.
“The kids really got into it,” noted Perry. “All of them had a great time. I think the teachers had just as much fun as the students.”
Another project the sixth graders had to take on was that of interviewing an older family member and comparing their memories of major childhood events, practices and lifestyle.
Most elders answering that their most memorable moment in history was hearing of President John F. Kennedy’s death, while students compared that moment to the terrorist attack on September 11.
Taking their walk through history, students were able to enjoy a historic walking tour of Rumford that was organized into a booklet by Rumford Historical Society member, Curtis Rice.
Students and their teachers followed The Historic Rumford Falls Illustrated Walking Tour book.
“I really liked seeing all of the old buildings and learning about them,” noted Brianna Walton. “My favorite was the Spite House. Learning that the man that lived there built it with so many stories just to block the neighbors view of the falls, that was pretty neat.”
With the tour taking the students on a walk through the most historic parts of town, while visiting the George Pettengill House, and the historic Strathglass Park, students learned that a former president had stayed in the McCarthy House and that Colonel George Bisbee was a POW during the Civil War.
Each group was instructed to draw a sketch of one or two of the homes they had visited.
As the children were walking during the week of thunderstorms, they were invited in to 49 Franklin by Scot and Cindy Grassette to wait out one of the storms, and while they were there received a tour and the history of the former church building.
Wanting to include even the smallest of the River Valley communities, sixth graders traveled to Andover for a day to tour the Woodlawn Cemetery where Mollyockett is buried, they visited the town common for a group photo and then given a presentation on the 50th anniversary of the Telstar bubble by David Belanger.
Students were able to walk the town square with a stop at the beautiful and historic Andover Library and then toured the historic building next door to the town hall.
When all of their outside activities were finished, students enjoyed a day at school for tree day. They learned tree identification with Forest Ranger Farnum, how to make paper, and how to accurately age a tree.
On some of the academic days the students made graphs and charts in math class, created River Valley music and songs, made science books, did research on animals, fish, birds, or insects found in the River Valley, and wrote conversational prose along with many other activities associated with the unit.
The excitement of the students during their day of show and tell was obvious and those sixth and seventh graders were definitely looking forward to what the next year had in store for them.
If you would like to read the first part of this series, please visit, http://www.rumfordfallstimes.com/featured-sports/story/055-mvms-part-1-25 and visit http://www.rumfordfallstimes.com/featured-sports/story/055-mvms-part-2-26, for the second part in the four-part series.