Hayeses visit elementary schools


Students through Delaware City Schools had special visitors this week when Rutherford B. Hayes and Lucy Webb Hayes visited their schools to commemorate Hayes Day.

Rutherford B. Hayes (played by Columbus reenactor Paolo DeMaria) and Lucy Webb Hayes (played by former Delaware County Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director Deb Shatzer) visited Schultz Elementary School and Woodward Elementary Thursday before speaking at an ice cream social at Hayes High School later that evening.

During the presentation, DeMaria and Shatzer told students about the Hayes’ lives and accomplishments.

DeMaria used Rutherford B. Hayes’ close relationship to his sister to encourage students to stay close with their siblings and families, adding there are lessons to be learned by studying history.

“Knowing those stories can be interesting, but it can also help us understand why things are the way they are today,” DeMaria as Hayes told students. “I encourage you to learn about history and study history in all its shapes.”

DeMaria also encouraged students to “be attentive” to their education.

“I want to encourage you to keep learning things that will help you as you go through life,” DeMaria said as Hayes.

The students were able to ask questions of DeMaria and Shatzer, and after the presentation, DeMaria said he enjoyed speaking to the students.

“It’s very energizing,” he said. “Especially (speaking in front of) elementary school students. They have bright faces, bright energy. They love learning, and you have so many great teachers here who create the conditions for these children to be successful and to learn and create these communities that are collaborative and everybody is well behaved. It makes me feel good about our future.”

DeMaria said he enjoys portraying Hayes and teaching people about the 19th U.S. president, who was born on Oct. 4, 1822 in Delaware.

“I don’t think a lot of people know very much about this individual who was an Ohioan, who was born right here in Delaware and the multiple roles they played,” DeMaria said. “He was not only president, he served as governor, a congressperson, he was a city solicitor, and the fact that he was almost 40 when he decided to join the Army (in the Civil War). Here’s a committed servant that really believed in the causes (he fought for).”

DeMaria said he hopes Delaware students are able to be inspired by Hayes.

“Part of it is raising the awareness of people about now only who he was and aspects of his contribution, but the other part is serving as a model to students to understand that even someone born in this town can go on to do many different and great things,” DeMaria said. “Everybody has that potential.”

Shatzer said she has been portraying Lucy Hayes for more than 20 years as part of her role at the Delaware County Convention & Visitors Bureau, and she enjoys talking about a figure she finds interesting.

“I (used to portray Lucy) for group tours, so we would have something positive to share about Hayes since the birthplace wasn’t there anymore,” Shatzer said. “Being part of the Hayes (statue) committee has given me more opportunities. I like talking about Lucy. I think she was a really special person. She had a lot of nice firsts. She’s a great character with fun stories.”

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903.

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