Local History Comes Alive for Franktown Elementary

Local History Comes Alive for Franktown Elementary
Posted on 10/28/2019
Local History Comes Alive for Franktown Elementary

Did you take pioneers to Pikes Peak? What did you do after the flood? How did you get a time machine? These are the kinds of questions you get when second-grade students come face-to-face with history.

Fully-costumed, enactors Jim Weglarz, Mary O’Pry, Larry Schlupp, and Dennis Burdick of Historic Douglas County spoke about the people of the past who shaped the Franktown area.

“Characters help kids identify their local history,” says O’Pry. “It makes it come alive for them.”

Girl looking at pictureThe historic figures of J. Frank Gardener, the founder of Franktown; William Green Russell, the founder of the neighboring town of Russellville; Babette Engle, the original matriarch of Prairie Canyon Ranch; and the Wagon Master, a guide for hundreds of pioneers into Colorado spoke to the second-graders. Students were eager to explore a miniature covered wagon model and intently studied a framed picture of William Green Russell -- “a photo from my younger days,” Schlupp explained in-character.

Historic Douglas County has been coming to Franktown Elementary since 2013, when teachers Natalie Reeser and Nancy Platts invited the organization to add to their local history curriculum.

“I could teach the material, but I wouldn’t do it justice,” says Platts.

Platts also suspects that the novelty of the characters and interactiveness of the enactment leaves a greater impression on her students.

“They love little artifacts,” Platts says. “We went on a field trip to Highlands Ranch Days where they panned for gold. When they saw the little gold pan on the model wagon, that actually had meaning for them.”

The second-graders study of local history provides a solid foundation for their study of Native Americans in third grade and Colorado history in fourth grade.

“We feel the younger you start, the better education the kids get,” O’Pry says. “People can have a sense of community.”

“It’s the old Teddy Roosevelt adage,” Schlupp says. “If you do not know where you are from, you do not know where you are going.”

Franktown pictures

Historic Douglas County has enacted local characters at other Douglas County schools in Larkspur and Roxborough; though they are eager to perform for more students in more grades. The organization focuses on educational opportunities, research-grounded materials, and supporting various local historical organizations. They also connect teachers and other curious minds with free programs and recommended reading.

Teachers and administrators interested in bringing history to life in their classrooms can learn more on www.historicdouglascounty.org.
Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2020 Intrado Corporation. All rights reserved.

In compliance with Titles VI & VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, and Colorado law, the Douglas County School District RE-1 does not unlawfully discriminate against otherwise qualified students, employees, applicants for employment, or members of the public on the basis of disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, religion, ancestry, or need for special education services. Discrimination against employees and applicants for employment based on age, genetic information, and conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth is also prohibited in accordance with state and/or federal law. Complaint procedures have been established for students, parents, employees, and members of the public. The School District’s Compliance Officer and Title IX Coordinator to address complaints alleging sexual harassment under Title IX is Ted Knight, Assistant Superintendent, 620 Wilcox Street, Castle Rock, Colorado, complianceofficer@dcsdk12.org, 303-387-0067. Complaints regarding violations of Title VI, (race, national origin), Title IX (sex, gender), Section 504/ADA (handicap or disability), may be filed directly with the Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, 1244 North Speer Blvd., Suite 310, Denver, CO 80204. Complaints regarding violations of Title VII (employment) and the ADEA (prohibiting age discrimination in employment) may be filed directly with the Federal Office of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 303 E. 17th Ave., Suite 510, Denver, CO 80202, or the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, 1560 Broadway, Suite 1050, Denver, CO 80202.