An entire hallway of Washington Elementary School was laced with Nebraska history on Thursday, courtesy of the school’s fourth graders.
The school hosted the “Nebraska Hall of History” event to commemorate the anniversary of Nebraska’s statehood on March 1. Students prepared presentations on important events and people in Nebraska’s history and displayed their research on decorative posters. They stood in the hallway displaying their posters and gave their to presentations to other students, their families and members of the community, who were invited to stroll through history.
“Part of our curriculum is that the fourth graders learn Nebraska history, so for second quarter and this quarter, we have been talking about events in Nebraska and people in Nebraska,” said fourth grade teacher Shanna Karlin. “It gives them an opportunity to practice their speaking skills and step out of the box a little bit, but it also requires them to practice research and create something visually that represents the information that they have learned.”
For the assignment, students had to explain the cause and effect of their chosen historical moment, or the cause and effect of their chosen historical figure’s actions. They also had to conduct research, write an essay and include a map outlining the location where their chosen topic occurred.
“The cause and effect was a huge thing for them to understand,” said fourth grade teacher Ben Zuch. “For instance, like Lewis and Clark, they were put on a mission—why did they have to do that, and what was the outcome of it? It was a great thing for them to see the whole picture of it.”
Topics included the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the Dust Bowl, the Great Depression and several important figures who were born in Nebraska.
Sammy Contreras, 10, chose to do his presentation on actor Henry Fonda, who was born in Grand Island. Holding a colorful poster in the shape of grapes to honor Fonda’s role in the 1940 film “The Grapes of Wrath” Contreras told the story of Fonda’s move from Grand Island to Omaha and eventually New York to perform on Broadway.
He had known about the Hall of History project for years and always wanted to participate.
“I’ve always wanted to do this since I was little—when I was very, very little, the first time I came was when my brother was at the school,” Contreras said. “It was really exciting.”
Contreras picked Fonda because acting is on his shortlist of possible future careers.
“When I grow up, I have many options so I want to be a train driver,” Contreras said. “But I couldn’t find anything about trains, so instead I looked for NASCAR racers but I couldn’t find any. So instead, one of the other options was being an actor, so I chose Henry Fonda.”
Contreras’ mother, Angelica, came to support him.
“He didn’t want to tell me anything about it because he said it is a surprise for me and for everyone,” she said.
Zuch, Contreras’ teacher, was excited to see the students’ work.
“This is my first year over at Washington so it’s been a really cool experience,” he said. “I’ve seen the kids work really hard.”
This was the third year that Washington Elementary School has done the Hall of History, though it has traditionally done similar events in the past, including the Hall of Presidents and the Hall of States.