Hello and happy weekend!
Judy Wasserman is back this week with a story that will bring a smile to your face while hopefully teaching you something new. I’ll hand it over to Judy now. See you tomorrow!
With the town election over, teacher contract talks still ongoing, and May Town Meeting just around the corner, we thought this story offers a welcome change of pace.
In 1799, when Burlington was incorporated as a town, students attended classes in one-room schoolhouses. A good example is the West School, built in 1795, now located on the corner of Bedford Street and Francis Wyman Road.
Imagine the surprise of 18th and 19th century students if they attended a Burlington school today. The size, number of students, and overall design of today’s schools would likely shock them.
But wait. Let’s turn it around. What do you think today’s students would think of the town back in 1799?
Well, in 2005, second graders from Fox Hill School got the opportunity to find out.
Second grade Pine Glen School teacher and Burlington Historical Commission member Kathi Horton organized student tours of Burlington’s historic sites, including the Francis Wyman House, Marion Tavern (today’s Grandview Farm), the Meetinghouse (now the United Church of Christ/UCC), the Old Burying Ground, the Union School, the West School, and the Historical Museum.
Joining Horton as tour guides were historical commission members, (the late) Norman Biggart, Toni Faria, Joyce Fay, and Mike Tredeau.
After the tour, the students wrote essays about what they liked on the tour.
Several described the Francis Wyman House as “cool!”
Many liked ringing the bell in the church, with help from church member and historian, Wayne Higden.
They learned that girls sat on the right side and boys on the left side in church, and that parishioners put money in the church “piggy bank.”
Some were amazed there were no bathrooms in the West School, and students used the outside.
They liked learning that when going to school, girls wore hats called ‘bonnets.’
Others learned that students wrote with a feather, dipped in ink, and not pencils.
Tour guides told them that the museum was first a school, then a library, and then the police station.
Students wrote about stones in the Old Burying Ground marking the graves of a few babies. They noted how sad that was.
The students also visited Town Hall, and wrote how they “got to be Selectmen.” One student wrote, “It was awesome because we got to answer all the complaints.”
The students “loved” the field trip, and learned a lot of information which “was exciting.”
Over the years, many elementary school students have enjoyed learning about Burlington’s history on the tours given by the historical commission. It is an enriching experience for both the students and the commission members.
Oh, wait. One last thing. Just think, those seven-year-old second graders in 2005 are now 24! How does that make you feel?!
by Judy Wasserman
Judy’s family has lived in Burlington since 1972. Her newspaper assignments have included: Reporter, Concord Journal; Editor, Burlington Times-Union; and Editor, Lexington Minuteman.
She also covered the schools for the Allston-Brighton TAB.
She was a Town Meeting member (Precinct 3) for many years; a member of the Burlington Historical Commission; a member of the Grandview Advisory Committee; and a member of the Friends of the Burlington Public Library executive board. She also volunteered at the Pine Glen School for several years.
Wouldn't it be good if current students had such local history lessons?