Area fourth graders love stepping into past at Swiss Heritage

Authored by Jim Langham on Sep 10, 2012

Over 1,700 fourth grade students from local and surrounding area schools converged on Swiss Heritage Village Friday to experience the sites, sounds and activities of life at the time that settlers came into the local area. Many of the students expressed feelings similar to Savannah Johnson, a fourth grader at Redkey Elementary School.
"I like seeing how it was in the old days," observed Johnson. "I learned how to make baby dolls, how they ate and the way that they cooked things. I learned what their houses were like."
"I think this is outstanding. It made me want to be back in the old days," commented Abbi Kuss, also of Redkey Elementary. "I liked the doctor's office and how their stove made things."
Jennifer Johnson, a teacher at Redkey Elementary, said that Friday's Education Day activities represented one of the primary reasons why she became a teacher – so children would have the opportunity to interact with activities.
"They have all of these experiences that enrich their learning," observed Johnson.
"The bull riding was fun; I learned a lot about how they lived," commented Redkey's Shayla Fisher. "It makes me want to live in the olden days."
Other students like Sara Garringer enjoy some of the relics of the time period that she had purchased such as a special feather and bracelet.
Students such as Bluffton's Emily Hiday and Draven Russell summoned the word, "fun," as a best description of their day. Both said that they enjoyed hanging out with their friends while touring the village.
"I like this place a lot," said Hiday.
Bluffton cousins Victoria and Shellie Valentine said that they would love to visit Swiss Heritage Village every day of the year.
"I could come here every day," commented Victoria. "It is really fun. I'm looking forward to eating here and finding the sheep to milk. I really like it."
"I liked seeing the way that they washed their clothes," commented Shellie. "I was amazed with the weaving in the barn. It was a great atmosphere."
Many of the students such as Bluffton's Seth Bennett were intrigued by the outdoor playground items such as the rope climbing, balance beam and swing.
Local resident Wilmer Sprunger worked by the old school on Friday as a part of community service to the local community and its heritage.
"We are so fortunate to have this," said Sprunger. "Without this kind of museum, we wouldn't know what was in our past. We wouldn't know what our earlier history was about."
Many chaperons and teachers present reminisced about days when they had been to Swiss Heritage Village at an earlier time. Kelly Fulk, a home schooling instructor from Decatur, said that she still has a heart that she made on Education Day several years ago.
"It's something, in my home, I decorate quite a bit like the way they did back then," Fulk said.
One group of students that especially were fascinated by Swiss Heritage Village were Prince Chapman Academy students from East Allen County schools.
A teacher from the system, Nidzara Sakinovic, said that she had been to Education Day several times and is always amazed at how much the students get out of the experience.
"We come every year; they talk about it for months," said Sakinovic.
"This is really exciting; I really like making bracelets," observed the Academy's Vanessa Villanueva. "I like the way your can put yourself back into the 1800s."
"They teach us a lot of stuff, how people used to live in those days," observed Alexandra Coreas, also from the Academy. "I like learning what they did, how they made things back then. This is something I will always remember."
Many of the educators expressed deep appreciation to Swiss Heritage Village officials and volunteers for making such a day happen.
"I was so excited to be able to come," observed Julie Purdy, fourth grade teacher from Huntington's Lincoln Elementary. "It's one of the few places were students get to experience hands on opportunities from something they have read about. The way this is modeled is fantastic. I will always appreciate the fact that our students get to do this. Thank you to all that make this possible."

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