Smith Elementary School students got a local history lesson in an unusual way Wednesday as they watched third graders present a musical they created called “A History of Delaware.”
The musical was made possible through a grant from the Smith Arts Council and the Ohio Arts Council, which allowed the school to bring in frequent collaborators Sheela Das, artistic director of Creative Concepts in Music, and Candace Mazur-Darman, who served as the dramatic director for the play.
Third grade teacher Michala Titus said the play was designed to give students more of a hands-on experience with local history.
“We thought about the major events here in Delaware and it stemmed from that,” Titus said.
Christina Hite, a fellow third grade teacher, said students took a tour of Delaware with the Delaware County Historical Society and learned about a variety of historical events, including the Flood of 1913 and the origin of The Little Brown Jug.
“That’s what peaked students’ interest and got them into the idea,” Hite said. “The beginning of October is when we started practicing one to two times a week. (Mazur-Darman) actually had the students create their own lines. The dialog was all student directed and student led.
Titus said she believes the project will have more of a lasting impact on students than a tradition series of lessons about local history.
“I feel like this is something they are going to remember because we brought it to life,” Titus said. “It ties it all together. I feel like there’s lots of components they are building upon.”
Hite agreed, adding students were much more responsive than a regular history lesson.
“It’s a lot of dry information that they have a hard time relating to,” Hite said. “In third grade, they are only about the now, so getting them to connect to something that happened in the past is very difficult. But this opportunity allows them to make a true self-connection to an event that happened in the past.”
Third graders performed the play for their schoolmates Wednesday afternoon and again for their parents after school.
“Seeing it come together really makes it rewarding,” Titus said.
Evan Macwhinney, a third grader, said he really enjoyed participating in the play.
“I liked the whole thing really,” he said. “I learned Delaware has a bunch of history!”
Lana Jordan, who played Lucy Hayes in the production, said she enjoyed learning about history in a unique way.
“I liked that we all worked together to make this play,” Jordan said.
Rilynn Giorgi, a fellow third grader, agreed.
“We got to have fun together, and we all took the time to cooperate,”Giorgi said.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.