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Cemetery Restoration Project

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Keywords: Enrichment Project
Subject(s): Social Studies, Photography, Technology, Art, English/Language Arts, Science
Grades K through 8
Original Author: Margaret (Peg) O'Hara, Frederick
We are a private Catholic elementary/middle school of nearly 600 students recently moved from an eighty year old school in the middle of our historic district to a 25 acre site and brand new school on the edge of the city, with panoramic views of the Frederic Valley. Our new school sits on the ground where a family farm house was located, which had to be taken down to make room for the new facility. Directly in front of this home, and now directly in front of the new school, and within 100 feet of it, is a family cemetery. Within a small grove of trees lie the remains of at least six people, marked by faded, leaning markers. There is also a fieldstone crypt with a vaulted ceiling and half-open cast iron door.

The unkempt burial ground has sparked an interest in the school community and a committee has been formed to help solve the many mysteries of this place of stones. Committee members include interested students from grades 2 to 8 who have met and brainstormed their wish list for the cemetery. I am one of three part time teachers who coordinate the QUEST program at our school under which this committee was formed. QUEST is the name of our schoolwide enrichment model that recognizes the gifts and talents of all students and strives to provide opportunities for development of real world products that answer real world problems. We have organized this committee to hopefully solve the problem of who is buried there; however, there are many other items of interest to our diverse student population.

High on the list of goals are the preservation and restoration of the graveyard; historical research of persons who have lived on the property; search for artifacts remaining; examination of land records and early maps; local ordinances pertaining to family cemeteries; interviews with former owners ( two have already been conducted) and numerous ideas related to sharing the gathered information with a wider audience. We are fortunate in that the QUEST program encourages these types of activities as well as the co-working of various age groups and interest levels.
Central to all this work, and recognized by the core group, will be documentation of our efforts and results.

The opportunities offered by Olympus and Tool Factory seem to be the perfect vehicle for our students to coordinate and systematically gather information, data, pictures and artifacts. Looking ahead we can envision numerous applications of our work, such as Learning Lunches for our students explaining results, news articles for our school family and the local community; an electronic product to add to our school site, presentations to our local Historical Society, donations of results to our local library and designation of the cemetery as an historical site.

In reading about the Tool Factory software I am impressed with the capability of Tool Factory Workshop and Multi Media Lab features and feel they would be central to our quest for documentation when used with the Olympus digital cameras. We have a wonderful state of the art Computer Lab ready to take on this project. For those students who love this technology, it would be a unique and creative opportunity for them to join this project and make a significant contribution. There are so many opportunities for "How To" demonstrations that are part of our enrichment model, and we love to showcase the talent and giftedness of our students in their own interest areas. As surely as we know there are gifted "techies" in our school community, there are also those who have a keen eye for photography. The workbooks of digital camera basics would be another opportunity for interest based, across grade groups to meet and learn.

This grant could really jump start our project and help us to achieve our goals. The Young Writer's Workshop could provide a way to interview and create news articles. The software for artistic expression could easily be used by our art teacher who is always open to integration of curricula across grade levels. This project has the potential to impact all subject areas and all students and to generate pride in this area's past, present and future. As one 5th grader described her reason for being on the committee: "Cemeteries are places of remembrance and are soothing, calming places." They are also places of teaching and learning and we have much ahead of us in both of these areas.
Since this Lesson Plan was submitted a cleaning of the cemetery occurred. As a result of moving two large mounds of earth two additional stones were found.
Materials: Word Processor, Camera Bags, Digital Voice Recorders, Point and Shoot
Other Items: 1 Camera Card, $ 89.99 each, total of $89.99
2 Printer Pak @ $77.98, $155.96 each, total of $311.92
1 Olympus P-11 Digital Printer, $149.95 each, total of $149.95
3 Camera Cases, $ 75.00 each, total of $225.00
Associated File: 659276.kid