BARTLETT — In March, the Bartlett Historical Society and Josiah Bartlett Elementary School kicked off an eighth-grade Bartlett history project as the last unit of social studies for the school year.

On June 13, the first Bartlett History Award was presented by the Bartlett Historical Society at the JBES eighth-grade Celebration to the student who most successfully met the criteria of the assignment.

In this history project, each student selected a different topic related to Bartlett history. Instead of just reading and hearing about the history of their topic, each student actively learned about their topic by researching it, writing a paper and doing an oral presentation on it. This turned out to be a challenging but educational project for the students.

Throughout the research phase of the project in April and May, Hadley Champlin and Phil Franklin from the historical society worked with Jen Lord, writing teacher at JBES, to help coach the students on how to research their topic, how to write a concise paper on the topic and develop a presentation that demonstrated their mastery of the topic.

Three other JBES faculty members — Joe Mountford, social studies teacher; Lisa Wedge, reading teacher and Karen Arendt, library media specialist — were also involved in this learning experience for the students.

Taking the time to meet with the students on a weekly basis also meant that Franklin and Champlin came away with their own homework assignments. Often, when students were searching for more information on a topic that was not available through the internet or library, they asked for assistance from the historical society members.

Searching through the archives of the historical society, Franklin, with the assistance of historical society curator Kathy Howard, was able to find information about different topics that were not normally available to the students.

Champlin and Franklin also helped arrange interviews with some of Bartlett’s local historians.

This assignment exposed the students to doing research beyond the online world. Students had to dig information out of books from the 1800s and 1900s, look for alternate ways of discovering information about their topic and, as noted, conduct interviews with people such as Selectman Gene Chandler and historian Norman Head.

At first, the need to search beyond the online sources stumped some of the students, but by the end of the project, most had been creative in finding information sources and developed informative, factual presentations on their topics.

In mid-May, each student presented his or her topic to classmates as well as Lord and the historical society representatives.

From those presentations, the four students who had most successfully met the criteria of the project were invited to a special event on the evening May 25, where they gave their presentation to a public audience. The audience included their relatives, members of the JBES administration and faculty, members of the historical society and a few members of the general public.

The presenters were Kat Lawson, who wrote about “The History of Maple Sugaring in Bartlett;” Joce Anzaldi, presenting “The History of Skiing in Bartlett;” Kaia Chakravadhanula, with “The History of Cemeteries and Hauntings in Bartlett;” and Chloe Sartory,  “The History of Snow Rollers in Bartlett.”

Each student did a great job on her presentation. From these presentations, the JBES faculty in the project and members of the Bartlett Historical Society Board of Directors selected the student whom they felt was the most successful in her project. That was Kat Lawson.

On June 13, Phil Franklin and Jen Lord presented Kat with the Bartlett History Award at the Eighth-Grade Celebration at JBES. This is a new award being sponsored by the Bartlett Historical Society and will be awarded each year to the top finalist in this history project. A plaque listing the winners of the Bartlett History Award will be displayed at the school.

The JBES eighth-grade faculty involved in this project and members of the Bartlett Historical Society Board of Directors have already discussed continuing and expanding this program in the next school year. Over the summer, they will work on ways to improve the program.

Phil Franklin is president of the Bartlett Historical Society. The organization is working to turn the former St. Joseph’s Church into a museum. For more on the project, go to bartletthistory.org.

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