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Published: Wednesday, 9/27/2006

Navarre students learn about school's namesake pioneer

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Re-enactor Neil Buttermore shows some black powder to some of the fourth graders. Re-enactor Neil Buttermore shows some black powder to some of the fourth graders.
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When it comes to underwear, Navarre Elementary School students are easily grossed out.

A resounding chorus of "eeeww" erupted from a group of first-grade students last week when Stephanie Shook said that the scarf-like fabric she held in her hand was actually a breech-cloth - otherwise known as Native-American underwear.

"It's what they wore back then," said Ms. Shook, who coordinates Native-American programming for the Metropolitan Park District of the Toledo Area.

She was at Navarre Elementary School last Friday to help celebrate Peter Navarre Day, an annual program for students to learn about the man for whom their school is named.

The school has been celebrating Peter Navarre Day for the last 11 years, said Robyn Hage, a music teacher and co-author of the book Peter Navarre - War of 1812 Scout.

Peter Navarre was born in 1785 and was best known for taking reinforcements to Port Clinton before the Sept. 9, 1813, Battle of Lake Erie.

Kayla Willier, 9, left, and Paige Olic, 8, are cheered as they bob for apples on Peter Navarre Day. Kayla Willier, 9, left, and Paige Olic, 8, are cheered as they bob for apples on Peter Navarre Day.
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He died in 1874, and Toledo declared Sept. 9 an official city holiday in 1922.

But the story of the early pioneer was almost forgotten over the years. When Navarre Elementary revived the tradition in 1994, it was very small but branched out into an entire day of activities designed around the early pioneer and the period he lived in.

Children usually take part in the activities at their school, 410 Navarre Ave.

But because Navarre is part of the Toledo Public Schools' districtwide building construction program, teachers and students had to celebrate the event this year at the former Libbey-Owens-Ford Technical Center, 1701 East Broadway. Students are being temporarily housed there until a modern school is built on the same site as the old school, which was 85 years old when it was torn down earlier this year.

Students spent the majority of the school day at seven different stations with speakers and hands-on activities.

They learned about the insignia on Neil Buttermore's uniform at the Civil War station and were taught how to hunt deer with a bow and arrow.

After pulling back her "arrow," which was a Styrofoam ball stuck onto a wooden stick, third grader Araceli Balderas, 9, let go and watched it come close to a red-and-white target.

"I did good. I almost hit it," she said.

At the station dedicated to bobbing for apples, three children at a time stood atop the water-soaked carpeting and shoved their faces into the cold water trying to be the first to come up with an apple.

For Ashley James, 6, it was a nearly impossible task.

"I tried," said the first grader, smiling. "But I can't do it with no two front teeth!"

Down the hallway, popcorn littered the floor at the corn station. After describing how the pioneers used corn, Kathy Niehaus, a second and third-grade teacher, helped the students make a hackysack out of rice and beans to play a game during which they tried to throw their hackysacks into a hole in a piece of wood.

"It's just so fun for the kids to learn stuff in a different setting than in a classroom with a desk, a chair, and a book," Ms. Niehaus said."I did good. I almost hit it," she said.

At the station dedicated to bobbing for apples, three children at a time stood atop the water-soaked carpeting and shoved their faces into the cold water trying to be the first to come up with an apple.

For Ashley James, 6, it was a nearly impossible task.

"I tried," said the first grader, smiling. "But I can't do it with no two front teeth!"

Down the hallway, popcorn littered the floor at the corn station.

After describing how the pioneers used corn, Kathy Niehaus, a second and third-grade teacher, helped the students make a hackysack out of rice and beans to play a game during which they tried to throw their hackysacks into a hole in a piece of wood.

"It's just so fun for the kids to learn stuff in a different setting than in a classroom with a desk, a chair, and a book," Ms. Niehaus said.



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