Harbor Springs Students “Learn Local”

Harbor Springs Students “Learn Local”

“History is not just something that happened long ago and far away. History happens to all of us all the time. Local history brings history home, it touches your life, the life of your family, your neighborhood, your community.”

       Thomas J. Noel

The Harbor Springs Area Historical Society is thrilled to have been visited by a number of school groups this winter, from second to eighth grade! As the quote above suggests, connecting students to our local history, to their history, engages them in a way that textbooks often don’t.

All of us here at the Historical Society are stewards of the history of this community and sharing that with local kids is an important part of our mission. We wanted to share a few moments from these school visits with you.

We have worked most closely with the fourth grade classes from Shay Elementary. Back in March they toured the museum and were given a special history lesson about inventor Ephraim Shay from Mr. Shay himself (portrayed by our costumed actor). The kids loved meeting Mr. Shay and bombarded him with all sorts of questions about his work on geared locomotives and about his time in Harbor Springs. The students then walked down to Mr. Shay’s house, the Hexagon House, and got a tour of the building.

The fourth grade classes were also treated to a special tour of the LIttle Traverse Lighthouse on Harbor Point. Not only did the students get to explore the lighthouse and its grounds but they also learned what life was like around 1900, exploring novel concepts like outdoor bathrooms and oil lamps.

As the fog rolled in off the harbor, the children got to see first hand how important the lighthouse and fog bell were for navigating ships. They also learned more about keeper Elizabeth Whitney Williams (portrayed by HSAHS staff member Beth Sylak) who was on hand to answer questions like “why are your sleeves so puffy?” and talk about William’s life as a female lighthouse keeper. Despite a sudden downpour, the students had a great time. Thanks again to our dedicated volunteers and to the Harbor Point Association for making this local learning experience possible.

Most recently, the second grade classes from Blackbird elementary toured the museum. Our invaluable volunteers Jan McDonald and Linda Leavitt led the students through our Local History and Discovery galleries at the museum. Shortly after their visit the students sent thank you notes and pictures to us at the museum, and we couldn’t resist sharing some. Their notes are part of what makes giving these tours so worthwhile.

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