Hundreds of students from throughout Alabama took part in day one of School Days at the Battle of Selma Thursday.  Organizers say the annual visits by schoolchildren remains one of the highlights for many of the re-enactors and vendors. (Jay Sowers | Times-Journal)
Hundreds of students from throughout Alabama took part in day one of School Days at the Battle of Selma Thursday. Organizers say the annual visits by schoolchildren remains one of the highlights for many of the re-enactors and vendors. (Jay Sowers | Times-Journal)

Battle of Selma begins with annual School Days

Published 6:07pm Thursday, April 24, 2014

Dozens of students from around Alabama came to Selma Thursday to travel back to the 19th century.

The 149th anniversary of the Battle of Selma kicked off with School Days, which invites schools to take part in demonstrations and explanations about life in 1865. Re-enactors demonstrated battlefield medicine, showed off 19th century weapons and donned military clothing from the Civil War.

Morgan Academy sophomore Davis Campbell called School Days an enlightening experience and said cannon-firing demonstrations were his favorite part of the day.

“We definitely don’t have any cannons at Morgan,” Campbell said. “I didn’t realize Selma was that big of an industrial city. I hadn’t been here since sixth grade and was a little rusty on my Selma history so I got a little refresher today.”

Morgan teacher Jennifer Hughes, who teaches literature, said her students each found different topics of interest. Hughes said School Days was an opportunity for students to experience history first-hand. Two Morgan students were even among the re-enactors.

“The students can get an idea of what the times were like, which they are reading about,” Hughes said. “Some kids learn better when they can actually see the way things were or put their hands on something that may have been from the same time period.”

Angie Poe, who is also a Morgan literature teacher, added that a hand-on experience can be more exciting for students than reading.

“They read about [the civil war era] and can’t really associate anything with it, so coming out and seeing it makes it more fun,” Poe said.

Students filed through different stations in groups, with a morning and afternoon session. During a break between sessions, re-enactors commented on their experience during School Days.

Battlefield doctor Jack Thomason, a retired college professor, said he was surprised at the knowledge of many students.

“I just don’t think students are taught about history the same way as they should be,” Thomason said. “The beginning of modern medicine was really the Civil War. They did have some tools and medical techniques, but in almost 150 years, we have come a long way.”

 

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