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Students transform into Patriots to learn freedom isn't free

By KBell
March 3, 2012 at 6:05 p.m.
Updated March 3, 2012 at 9:04 p.m.

Learning to become proper young ladies,   girls at Our Lady of Victory schoolpractice genteel behavior by practicing how to curtsy during Patriots Day.FRANK TILLEY/FTILLEY@VICAD.COM

Taking a break from stitching a sleeve for Patriot soldiers, an 18th-century girl flipped open her hand-held fan to breeze her face.

All was quiet in the candle-lit room, save the occasional humdrum of 21st-century students passing by.

"We're not supposed to speak in the presence of an adult," Emily Rodriguez, 10, explained after being spoken to.

The fifth-graders at Our Lady of Victory were taking part in the school's fourth annual Patriots Day on Tuesday.

Donned in bonnets, aprons and puffy sleeves, girls spent the day learning how to sew, the art of tea service and genteel behavior.

Boys, meanwhile, wore knickers, vests and Patriot-style hats. They spent the day learning Latin, practicing military commands and writing letters from war.

"One of the very important things is to learn how we became free, and our freedom didn't just happen. A lot of people made tremendous sacrifices to make us free today," social studies teacher Karen Frazier said.

As part of the day's projects, students created an entire Patriot persona, deciding on everything from a new name, to the colony they live in, to their station in life and how many siblings they have in the war.

Emily was Elizabeth on Tuesday, and her 17-year-old brother, William, was a soldier.

In Frazier's class, students have been learning not only about the Revolutionary War, but also why people who lived in that time period behaved the way they did.

Students were careful not to break character, whether they were playing marbles, eating a snack of gingerbread or running through dances of the time period.

Boys paraded with their arms locked at a 90-degree angle at the elbows, one in front of their chests, one in back. Girls walked with upright posture, their fingers clasped in front of them.

"The purpose was to separate them from the animals. They viewed themselves as children of God and strived to be as god-like as possible ... and to keep their bodies under control at all times," Frazier said.

Even with the strict rules, and not a TV, computer or video game to be invented for more than a century, students said they'd quite like to live every day like an 18th-century child.

"I like to work a lot. I don't like to just sit around the house," said Cole Rather, 11. "The kids in those days, they'd have to work a lot."

With parent volunteers and help from other teachers, Frazier said Patriots Day continues to be a successful learning experience that OLV students look forward to when entering fifth grade.

"It's more than just a book. It comes alive for them," she said.



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