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Friday, October 31, 2014
Canajoharie, NY ,

Joshua Thomas
Canajoharie Middle School seventh grade students visiting Fort Klock last week, left side of table, from left, Joe O'Connor, Michelle Reese, Christina McLaughlin, Casandra McGrheh, Hailey Snyder, Kaitlyn Jenks, and Carlene Montanye. Right side of table, from left, Gage Murray, Seth Arsenalt, Jaden McGuigan, and Ethan Robbins.

Joshua Thomas
88 Canajoharie Middle School seventh graders gather in front of Fort Klock's Dutch barn during their visit last week.

Joshua Thomas
Canajoharie Middle School seventh graders gather in Fort Klock's Dutch barn.

Joshua Thomas
Darla Klock lets Canajoharie Middle School seventh graders smell mint naturally grown in Fort Klock's gardens.

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CMS seventh graders learn about their ancestors' hard past at Fort Klock

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 - Updated: 9:58 AM

By JOSHUA THOMAS

C-S-E Editor

ST. JOHNSVILLE -- 88 members of Canajoharie Middle School's seventh grade class spent the day at Fort Klock last Thursday, splitting into four rotating groups to visit the facility's gardens, main house, Dutch barn, school house and blacksmith shop.

This is the first time the seventh grade, as a whole, has visited Fort Klock, and Social Studies Teacher Mike O'Connor said the visit is a very effective way of tying  living history into the district's curriculum. "It ties in very closely," said O'Connor, noting that the kids recently studied the Revolutionary War.

"They seem to be enjoying it very much. They're asking good questions and they're learning a lot," he said, adding, "If they'll have us back, I think we'll continue."

Some of the lessons students found especially interesting involved the differences between the average day in school for a student today and a student of the past. "We don't use the dunce cap anymore and we don't hit them anymore," a fact the students appreciated, joked O'Connor.

English Teacher Celia VanDerwerker said, "every time I can, I try to incorporate something they're learning," with the rest of the school's curriculum, explaining that her students are studying literature of the same time period outlined by the Fort Klock experience, which she referred to as "culminating."

"It's a nice trip, where they can see some of the things they've learned and experience them first hand," she said.

Tom Lanni, of South Cambridge, NY, travelled to Fort Klock specifically to speak to the students last Thursday. His talk involved details, "about the construction of the Dutch barn and how it was used -- how agriculture was different -- how it was a grain based agriculture."

"The kids are very well behaved and interested, so it makes it very fun for me," Lanni said of his experience at Fort Klock.

Lanni owns a Dutch barn that was originally located in Stone Arabia, which he came into possession of in the mid 1990s. "The farmer didn't want it anymore. I tried to buy the land it was on and keep it there," but wasn't successful, so the barn was dismantled piece by piece and reconstructed on his property.

Substitute Teacher Serafina Pandolfo said of the student learning experience offered at Fort Klock last Thursday, "They experienced what it's like to work all day. It must've been so difficult for the pioneers because they had no resources. They had natural resources and their hard work; Every single tool is made by hand, every stitch of fabric is made by hand. Every day, sun up to sun down, was hard work. Even for the little ones, who would empty the bed pans and save the urine for tanning hides."

Site Interpreter Dave Klock said this fact was important for the kids to understand, as the land they were standing on was originally purchased with beaver pelts -- once the basis of the local economy.

The whole area, he said, was purchased with 700 beaver pelts. The 660 acres purchased from Native American Indians by a corporation was then split into lots and re-sold.

Seeing history in action, said Pandolfo, really brought it to life for the kids.

"It's more hands on and interesting," she explained, continuing, "When you can actually see somebody doing a job they haven't done for two hundred years, it's very informative, and lets us know how much we really do take for granted, and how much work living as a Pioneer in America really was."

"Our forefathers and our ancestors worked so hard to make a niche for our country."

Joshua Thomas - Fort Klock Historic Restoration Member Eugene Wagner demonstrates the use of blacksmith tools.

     

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