Schoolcraft students dig into history of century-old artifacts

Kalamazoo County

SCHOOLCRAFT, Mich. (WOOD) — Students often learn through reading books, writing essays and making an occasional field trip.

But some fourth and fifth grade students at Schoolcraft Elementary School were assigned a social studies project that had an approach that was a little more hands on and personalized.

With the help of the Gilmore Car Museum, what began as a generic project on artifacts turned into an exciting surprise for Taelor Wedel’s social studies students.

“I said, ‘Well actually over here in this room, we have artifacts here,'” Wedel said. “They’re like, ‘What? What are you talking about?’”

It turns out, these relics are trophies won and apparel worn by Schoolcraft students dating back to the early 20th century. Wedel’s students could not hold back their excitement.

“It’s just cool to think that I’m holding something that somebody 90 years ago wore,” fourth grader Hudson Vaeschler said.

“It’s cool to look at how much stuff they got — all the trophies,” fourth grader Charlyse Sheteron said.

“It’s just so cool that the school has been here for a long time and that they’ve done sports for this long,” Lucy Wheeler, who is also in fourth grade, said.

But as Wedel explained, there was a catch.

“Some of (the artifacts), don’t have a lot of information,” Wedel said. “So, we’re going to have to research them and figure out why they’re important and why we’re celebrating them.”

The weekslong project transformed these students into young storytellers, digging deep into the background of these collectibles and even making corrections along the way.

“My group did cross-country,” Wheeler said. “We looked at the yearbook, then we go, ‘Check the names on the cross-country trophy.’ So, we looked at them and all the names were a little wrong. So, we erased them and then wrote them.”

Ryder Szide’s group collaborated on a jersey that’s more than 100 years old and the player who wore it.

“He played baseball in 1916 and 1917,” Szide said. “There was this paper and it said he lived on a huge 100-acre farm.”

The makeshift museum will be under a tent at Roy Davis Field Friday night, where history buffs will get their chance to read those stories and take a trip back in time. No matter the grades given, these Eagles of the present day were thrilled to learn more about those from the past.

“I’ll always remember this because this was a really fun experiment, how we got to learn about something,” Vaeschler said. “It was a fun thing to do as friends and to do for school.”

Following the homecoming game against Galesburg-Augusta, faculty and staff told News 8 the artifacts will start to make their way from the tent to their more permanent home at the high school.

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