Historical figures from American history stopped by Bret Harte Elementary School for a visit with students on Friday, November 14. John Burroughs High School drama students brought the characters to life during visits with every classroom in grades one through five.
Burroughs student Maddie Seiffert was Anne Sullivan, best known as the teacher and companion of Helen Keller.
Samantha Rubin portrayed Sacagawea, a Native American woman who accompanied explorers Meriwether Lewis and Captain William Clark on their exploration of the northwestern United States and was vital to the success of the expedition.
Tenley Patterson was pilgrim Sarah Goodson and Brennan Flynn portrayed Captain William Clark. Alex Aston acted the role of California’s own naturalist, author and preservationist John Muir.
Time Travelers is a program developed in 2007 by Joyce Costanza-Moskowitz and Sheila Cavalliuzi at Bret Harte Elementary in which historical figures visit with students, talking about their lives and answering quesitons.
Volunteer parents had originally portrayed the roles of the historical figures. However, two years ago Bret Harte PTA began a partnership with the JBHS drama program and its director Guy Myers.
Students in Myers’ Play/Production class now bring history to the Bret Harte Elementary classrooms, having portrayed famous American people including Elizabeth Blackwell, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and Betsy Ross.
The Time Travelers program has been so successful that McKinley and Disney Elementary Schools will partner with JBHS to bring the experience to their schools in the spring of 2015.
Burbank High School students visit Miller Elementary for the Time Travelers program and will add a stop by Emerson Elementary in the spring of 2015, as well.
“The program benefits everyone involved, from the student actors who are gaining real world experience by having to research and become their characters to the students who enjoy learning about these famous figures,” said Burroughs PTA Art Chair Lisa Dyson.
“Time Travelers is a great opportunity for the kids at Bret Harte to learn about history in a hands on environment,” commented Bret Harte PTA President Shannon Marando. “The students are always excited to see the actors walk into the classrooms and talk about what they did back in their time.”
“The students have the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about a time in history they have been studying,” Marando added. “It’s a time for the teachers to sit back and observe the students and how much they are learning.”
“I get as excited as the students before a visit!” said third grade teacher Linda Young. “I like to prepare children with enough background knowledge so they can ask appropriate questions. Many times I use primary source materials and artifacts. We also spend time with new and interesting vocabulary.”
“After reading Sacagawea’s biography we were very interested in knowing what wapato and camas roots were,” she continued. “A computer search helped inform us and contributed to our overall learning.”
“Last year, one of my former second grade students came dressed as Anne Sullivan,” Young added. “I didn’t even recognize her because she was so authentic looking! She impressed me with all of her content knowledge and how well prepared she was for the role.”
“Time Travelers has enhanced the children’s understanding of important people from the past,” concluded Young. “I only wish that we could have the travelers visit us for a longer period of time.”