Regional News;class Acts

By Salmon, Barrington | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 28, 1997 | Go to article overview
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Regional News;class Acts

Salmon, Barrington, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)

A half-dozen soldiers stood by a makeshift encampment in the middle of a field. One man carried a large green flag, others had weapons and one soldier fingered a penny whistle which he played from time to time.

The scene at Drew Model School in Arlington could have been one that was played out anywhere except for one thing: The men were in Civil War uniforms.

The soldiers were re-enactors, representatives of three Civil War regiments - the 54th Massachusetts, a black unit; the 28th Pennsylvania, from Philadelphia; and the 28th Boston, an Irish unit.

They spent most of the day March 21 talking to excited students about life during the Civil War as well as their own experiences as re-enactors.

In the end, this bit of "living history" gave the children a better grasp of their past and their heritage.

"It's really been great," said Pat Byram, a school volunteer and parent. "I feel the children learn so much more deeply when they are immersed for the entire day. They really do a wonderful job. The kids look forward to it every year."

Each year, Diane Evans-Gayer said, teachers at the school meet and decide on a theme. In the past, they have re-enacted ancient Greece and Rome, medieval Europe and pre-Columbian civilizations in the Americas. This year they settled on the Civil War.

Ms. Evans-Gayer, a fourth- and fifth-grade science teacher, wore a hooped skirt over a voluminous petticoat.

"Ooooh," several girls said as they ran up to her. "What's under there? How do you sit down?"

Ms. Evans-Gayer pulled up the dress to reveal hoops and a petticoat

"It's fluffy," Raashir Desert, 8, said as she gave Ms. Evans-Gayer a wide hug around her waist. "Umm! Everybody hug her!"

And about a dozen girls closed in on the teacher and hugged her.

For the better part of a day, fourth- and fifth-graders, teachers and parent volunteers transformed classrooms into the Union capital - Washington, D.

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