Orleans Elementary students didn't have to go far to research their community's history. They happen to live within walking distance of the Orleans County Historical Society's Old Stone House Museum. Originally built as a dormitory for the Orleans County Grammar School, the Museum's collections are housed in a stately four story granite building constructed by the Reverend Alexander Twilight, circa 1830. Meeting once a week at the Museum, students explored five different aspects of Orleans history:
Twilight was the first person of African-American ancestry to graduate from an American university (Middlebury, 1823). Born in Corinth, VT, Twilight went on to become the longest serving headmaster at the Orleans County Grammar school.
The Valley House
This landmark had a symbiotic relationship with the railroad as it developed in Orleans. The inn suffered many disasters and enjoyed many reincarnations throughout its long career.
Daily Life of an Orleans County Grammar School Student
The ratio of girls to boys, courses offered, daily schedule, punishments, and humorous anecdotes are explored.
Hinman was one of many Revolutionary War veterans who bought land in Northern Vermont. He built the first road through Orleans to his property in Derby, creating many myths along the way.
Each topic spins off from an artifact, such as Twilight's tobacco-spattered Bible, a room key from the Valley House, an infamous cannon ball, or the facial expression in Hinman's portrait.
In the course of research, students portrayed Alexander and Mercy Twilight, walked in the footsteps of Timothy Hinman, learned to edit iMovie footage, and conducted interviews with local historians. Groups present their interpretation through a variety of creative forms, including an imaginary interview, digital documentary, and three-panel exhibit.
Without leaving their county, these students gained an historical fluency and expertise through time travel. Here they share their projects with the larger world, and hope to save them for future historians.