5th-Graders spend day as 18th-century villagers

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Dressed in Colonial-style clothing, parent Martha Kibbey held up a handsaw and asked a group of fifth-graders at Darnestown Elementary School whether anyone needed a limb amputated. "We have some bullets you can bite on, because we don't have any anesthetic," Kibbey told the students while explaining an 18th-century apothecary's services.

"Our children today do not have enough history taught to them. They get bits and pieces. This makes it come alive," said social studies teacher Luanne Deppa, dressed in a pink-flowered period dress and cap. "Our children need to have a foundation. They need to know where this country's been, and where it's going, to keep this country great."

The event is the culmination of the fifth grade's study of Colonial history. It has grown since its inception in 1999, when two fathers built the facades of village buildings, such as the apothecary, a meetinghouse and a barbershop, and set them up in the school's gymnasium. "They took a page from my social studies book and built the exact New England settlement," Deppa said. Behind the building facades, fifth-grade parent volunteers create interior settings each year, filling them with their own furniture and objects to make the rooms look authentic. "They even tried to find leeches one year" for the apothecary, said Deppa, who supervised her final Colonial Day this year. Fifth-grade teacher Debbie Waechter will take over the event when Deppa retires after 35 years of teaching.

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