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American History students travel to historic city

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Students had the chance to travel to the oldest, still inhabited city in the country where they learned about American history.

“The eighth grade social studies department always tries to put together a trip to help enhance the knowledge base of the students.  We’ve done Washington D.C. the past few years, but we felt that this trip was less expensive, so more students could participate,” Douglas Battle, eighth grade history teacher and chaperone on the trip, said.

The trip to Saint Augustine lasted two days, from Nov. 16 to Nov. 17, and included 48 eighth grade students.

“The point of this particular trip was to stress to the students the importance of early Florida history to the development of the United States,” Battle said.

Students were able to enjoy various activities, ranging from museums to ghost tours.

“This trip offered the students a chance to interact with the historical sites of St. Augustine,” Battle said.

They first took part in a trolley ride around sections of the historic city before going to the Oldest Store Museum, where they showcased old inventions that changed people’s living styles, such as a goat powered washing machine and bicycles.

“I thought it was interesting to see how people were able to create practical tools without the use of today’s technology,” Deven Seedial, eighth grade piano major, said.

Students visited the Fort Mose Historic Park, a site complete with picnic areas, an observation boardwalk, and an interactive museum.

The organizers on the trip hoped for it to hold educational opportunities, but found it to be a little inadequate.

“Unfortunately, the museum was small and its collection of artifacts was a bit lacking.  It’s new, so maybe they will add to it, and the park around it was beautiful.  But the museum itself was a bit of a disappointment,” Battle said.

Even with that, Battle believed it still offered an educational experience.

“Still, I think the students learned about the important history of slaves escaping to Florida for their freedom,” Battle said.

At night, students took a guided ghost tour of Saint Augustine. They searched for ghosts and spirits and learned the darker side of the city.

“I learned about paranormal activities and how it affected the city in a suspenseful way,” Alan Bencosme, eighth grade piano major, said.

The next day, the students split up into three different groups, where they were able to participate in the same activities but at different times.

Students went to Castillo de San Marcos, a Spanish fort where they learned about how the soldiers lived and how the fort was designed.

“It was an amazing learning opportunity with them showing us part of Florida’s history,” Seedial said.

They also took part in a guided nature tour down the St. James River. They learned about the underwater animals that lived there, such as dolphins and barnacles. Students got the option to take a boat or pair off and kayak. According to Battle, it was “a great way” for the students to learn ecology and history in an “interactive way.”

“The kayak tour not only offered the students an opportunity to interact with nature in a fun setting, but the guides also taught the students some of the history of the river and the fort that guarded the waterways in and out of the city,” Battle said.

Students toured the Old Florida Muesem, where they looked at how people survived back in the day in hands-on activities. The activities ranged from old games to making candles.

“It was really interesting to see how people lived back then. I think it was a great that the museum gives visitors a chance to participate in activities themselves that simulate what it was like back in the day,” Bencosme said.

After those events the three groups met up to visit the Pirate and Treasure Museum.

“The pirate museum was very cool. It was interesting to see some of the artifacts that they had, such as the Only Lasting treasure chest and movie props such as Jack Sparrow’s sword. We also got to learn about the truths of real pirates. The effort put into the museum was awesome,” William Dhana, eighth grade visual arts major, said.

Overall, students felt that they had a good experience during the trip.

Bencosme said, “This trip was both informative and entertaining. I had fun with my friends while learning about this country’s founding.”

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American History students travel to historic city