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SES earns grant to fund Pioneer Day

Straughn Elementary School’s Tammie Evans recently earned a $500 grant through the Alabama Daughters of the American Revolution to help fund her Pioneer Day.

“I was encouraged by Brenda Gouge, Regent of Old Three Notch DAR, to pursue the 2020 Classroom Grant,” Evans said. “With the plans for this to become an annual event, I realized that I needed to begin preparing now for the expenses. Obviously, my original plan to have this each Alabama Day will have to be altered this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.  I am hoping to conduct the event second semester, but of course that is tentative.”

Evans said she started Pioneers day as a fun and beneficial way to celebrate Alabama’s 200th birthday.

“I got in touch with Opp Elementary’s Heather Gafford to consult with her about their annual event and how I could incorporate her experiences into what I wanted to accomplish with our Alabama Day,” she said. “ The idea was to take children back to the time of Alabama’s statehood, and it was such a success last year that we decided it would be fun to make it a yearly event. In teaching Alabama History of this time period every year, we want our students to have hands-on experiences of what life was like when Alabama became a state in 1819.

Evans said that she plans hand-on activities for students with stations such as blacksmithing, butter churning, quilting, cane syrup making, corn grinding, flint knapping, a one-room schoolhouse and corn husk doll-making.

“ We will also have a pioneer museum with tools (plow, scythe, sheep shears, washboard, wash tub, cotton combs), cooking equipment (cast iron pots, canning jars), lanterns, candles, sedge brush brooms, and split-oak baskets,” she said. “We have presenters come to demonstrate these long lost artisan crafts.  Our students, faculty, and staff dress in period dress. The day is divided into equal time at stations, and students rotate through all of them.”

Evans said the students’ favorite activities last year were butter churning and quilting.

“They learned that pioneers used a churn to make butter, but they also discovered that they can put heavy cream, salt, and marbles in a mason jar and shake to make their own, which they spread on a cracker and ate.  The quilter had squares in hoops, needles, and thread for students to learn what for many is a forgotten art,” he said.

The grant is for $500.