Children go back in time with Battle of Selma School Days

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 22, 2005

About every ten minutes, the students gathered in the field of Riverside Park jumped with fright, looked around, then started laughing and clapping.

They were reacting to the firing of rifles and a cannon during the Battle of Selma’s School Days.

“It is a fabulous historic experience,” said Shannon Lapp. “It gives them the chance to experience what life was like during the time of the Civil War. But, I’m a history buff and from this area, and I like to share my personal history, the good and the bad, with my students.”

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Lapp, a fourth grade teacher at Daniel Pratt Elementary School (DPES) in Prattville, has been bringing students to the School Days for the past eleven years.

Thanks to the effort of reenactors from across the country, the estimated 1,600 students in attendance Thursday got a chance to experience all aspects of life during the 1860’s.

They met a blacksmith and his apprentice who explained how a forge worked, shared with them the life of an apprentice, and made a nail and a cross.

“This is what we’re studying, the Civil War and Alabama’s part in the Civil War,” said Andrea Nordan, a Southern Choctaw Elementary (SCE)teacher.

“I enjoyed the way the blacksmith made the nail out of the little trashes of iron,” said Samantha Thompson.

“I enjoyed him making nails and stuff,” said Andrea Chapman.

Brittany Manley said that she enjoyed watching him make the nail and the cross as well.

Thompson, Chapman, and Manley are all fourth grade students at SCE.

“I think they will always remember this,” said SCE fourth grade teacher Glenda Adams. “What we have been talking about is not real to them until they actually see it. This is my first time, and it’s absolutely amazing.”

The students got a chance to sing traditional songs as musicians played

guitars, harmonicas, banjos, and spoons, “visit” with a teacher in her one room schoolhouse, and watch wool being spun into thread.

“It’s one thing to read about it in textbooks, but to see it, you get a whole different understanding,” said Kim Cochrane, a DPES fourth grade teacher.

They also saw the types of foods that soldiers ate, the types of clothing that they wore, and learned the role of the artillery and infantry groups in the military.

“I enjoyed that one,” said Noell Cochrane, as she pointed at the infantry demonstration.

“I like when the cannon shoots,” said Lauren Goldman.

Cochrane and Goldman are both DPES fourth graders.

“It’s such a wonderful experience,” said Cecilia Terrell, a fifth grade Forest Avenue Academic Magnet Elementary School teacher. “Students get to experience history as if they are back in time. This is a wonderful opportunity to make the words on pages come alive!”