Students kindergarten through grade 12 will spend a full day together in small groups exploring ancient Rome on Nov. 7, 2018, at Eastern Mennonite School. Area homeschool students and families, and other interested community members, are welcome to join the activities.
The day will focus on the Roman Empire — or Pax Romana — and life in First Century Palestine. Planned by history teachers and student representatives, the day will include a shopping bazaar where they will learn about bartering and trade, and some stories from the Bible that took place in that time period.
Now in its fifth year, History Day is an innovative, full-day immersion experience on varied themes. Elwood Yoder, history teacher, leads the extensive planning process which takes nearly a year to coordinate. See a video of Elwood Yoder describing plans for Nov. 7, 2018.
“This is one of the most gratifying and energizing aspects of my 36-year teaching career,” reflects Yoder. “The interaction across grades and age levels, the involvement of student planners and leaders, the participant engagement in ‘family groups’ for a full day is unusual and remarkable. I’m so grateful our administration has blessed me to run with this passion!”
Yoder launched the History Day model in 2014 when he considered ways to help students understand the impact the burning of farms and mills had in the Shenandoah Valley during the American Civil War. A collaborative group of elementary, middle and high school teachers planned the first day, which was held 150 years after the actual burning. Events and interactive stations helped children learn in hands-on experiences. For that event, Yoder dressed as a Union General. Students circulated throughout the day in mixed age “family groups” with older students assisting younger students.
In 2015, the day explored the decades of the 1950s and ‘60s in the United States, with Yoder dressing the part of Paul Stookey and singing tunes from the group Peter, Paul and Mary, and other protest songs.
In September 2016, the entire middle and high school traveled to Fort Seybert, West Virginia. Susan Melendez, sixth grade history teacher, has a family connection to the 1754 Indian raid on Fort Seybert, which took place during the French and Indian War. Students learned everything from blacksmithing, to Indian arts, to throwing a tomahawk. Yoder dressed for the day as Thomas Jefferson; others took roles from colonial America and gave students a visual and interactive look at early America.
In 2017, History Day coincided with the school’s centennial year celebration. Yoder dressed as a school founder and interacted throughout the day as students explored the history of the school and life 100 years ago.
Visitors to History Day are welcome, free of charge. Students of any age must be accompanied by an adult. All guests are invited to the front office to sign in and register for a free lunch. The entree option will be chicken curry and rice, in keeping with the theme for the day.
Located at 801 Parkwood Drive, Eastern Mennonite School K-12 offers excellent academics from a foundation of faith and values in a welcoming community with global perspective.