School's Archaeology Dig Turns Up Some Treasures

By Strickland, Sandy | The Florida Times Union, May 31, 2008 | Go to article overview

School's Archaeology Dig Turns Up Some Treasures


Strickland, Sandy, The Florida Times Union


Byline: SANDY STRICKLAND

As he dug through a roped-off patch of dirt, Christopher McChesney felt something hard. The young paleontologist furiously began uncovering his find.

He and partner Gabe Thomas let their imaginations take flight as they examined the object. They peered through the eye sockets of what appeared to be the skull of a steer or bull.

They dug some more and found thigh, rib and ankle bones.

"It's fun to get dirty," said Christopher, an 8-year-old student at Hendricks Day School on the Southside.

Every year, the school's second-grade teachers, Tonya Elstein and Amy Reese, take their students on a "dino dig."

"The purpose is to bring a unit study we did on dinosaurs to life and to have fun," Elstein said. "The students are so excited. They will never forget this."

The excavation took place last week at the rear of the private Dean Road school. The site was tilled and platted into 16 sections, with two students assigned to each. Maintenance staffers George Duggan and David Longo worked for weeks "preparing" the site, Elstein said. And the students, dressed in blue T-shirts with "Dino Dig Crew" on the back, found lots of bounty to pique their interest.

Some shouted out that they'd unearthed an arrowhead, a fossil or a bone that "looks like it belongs to a long neck." Others didn't know what they'd found but knew it looked intriguing.

At first, Rylee Sexton and Averie Perce thought they'd discovered a real turtle. But after closer examination, they realized it was a tortoise shell.

Janae Billings said she was excited to find a bone sprouting long sharp teeth, a rock that resembled a neck and a fossil footprint of a dinosaur.

"What I like best about the bones is they tell stories from long ago," the 8-year-old said.

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