Rancho Camulos Museum was transformed into a scene from the late-1800s Thursday as more than 100 Santa Clarita Valley International (SCVi) eighth grade learners participated in the fifth annual Civil War Living History Day.
The all-day event was entirely student-driven with the team planning, organizing, preparing, developing and executing the day’s exhibits and activities.
“Learning about the Civil War is an eighth grade state standard,” said Sara Brown, community outreach coordinator for SCVi and iLEAD Schools. “Rather than teaching something out of a textbook or having the kids write a term paper, this is their project to share what they’ve learned about the Civil War.”
Months before the event, students selected which historical character they wanted to be and studied how to act during the day’s activities.
“Some of them have taken what they learned about the time period and created a character on their own,” Brown said. “They had to write a biography about who they are, how they got to what they’re doing and what their role is.”
This behind-the-scenes work came in handy Thursday as students stayed in character and acted as docents and led visitors through the Living History exhibit at Rancho Camulos.
This year’s Civil War Living History Day included a reenacted of a battle between Union and Confederate soldiers, a war hospital, military encampments, a performance of the “Virginia Reel” at a cotillion, a reenactment of the Gettysburg Address and sutlery shop full of items made by SCVi learners.
“A sutlery is a store that used to exist,” Brown said. “The military did not provide what everyone needed so soldiers were responsible for purchasing their own things like soap.”
The covered wagon, pop-up store would follow the army around for weeks or months at a time and sell items to soldiers.
As part of an entrepreneurial aspect of the Civil War project, SCVi learners had to create their own items, like soap and candles, to sell to visitors during the event.
“The sutlery also helps raise funds to support the event,” Brown said.
A new addition to this year’s event included a Civil War-era school with teachers and students.
“This is all learner-driven,” Brown said. “They decided they wanted to present what education was like in the 1860s.”
Over the last five years, the project has continued to grow and develop as SCVi learners add in new characters, scenes and reenactments to the Civil War Living History Day.
“This is one project that we could call it a legacy project,” Brown said. “We hope students develop a love and appreciation for history.”
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_