In mid-May, kids from Evergreen Elementary School had a field trip to the Harbor History Museum. The third-graders, under the watchful eye of teacher Therese Sauers, were all but overwhelmed with what they learned.
“I thought it was interesting to see Gig Harbor before all the city stuff was built,” said student Marissa Hoover.
Students were divided into two groups. One toured the museum under the guidance of a volunteer docent then toured the 1926 purse seiner fishing boat, the Shenandoah, now being restored under the guidance of Key Peninsula shipwright Nathan Slater. The other attended the Midway School to learn about education in 1901.
Midway School was a one-room facility located halfway between Gig Harbor and Artondale until it was abandoned when the Peninsula School District came to life. It was later moved to HHM. In it, Leann O’Neil, a retired educator, becomes “Miss Bennet,” who conforms strictly to the demands of those days: no smiling or laughing in class, except on Christmas Day (when there is no school); no talking in class; raise your hand if you have a question; if recognized, stand erect at the right side of your desk, etc.
Student Ronan Jackson “thought it was so awesome because I learned what the schoolhouse was like in 1901. I learned how to tie the sails on a sail boat.”
Classmate Rylee Coggin “liked the schoolhouse and the Shenandoah because we learned how they kept the fish and where they put them.”
For Chris Chandler, “It was fun. My favorite part was the big ship. We got to go inside and see how they had to live in there.”
“Thanks to a generous grant from the Gary Milgard Foundation and the KP Partnership Program, Evergreen third-graders were able to experience what school was like in 1901,” said Peninsula School Board member Marcia Harris. “Miss Bennet led the class, and students were well behaved and attentive!”
To student Eli Rivas, “It was awesome because of the Shenandoah and the schoolhouse. I learned the history of Gig Harbor.”
Evergreen Principal Hugh Maxwell wanted to share how great it was for the school’s third-graders to attend the museum.
“We’re thankful to Marcia Harris for acquiring the funds for our third grade classes to attend HHM through a grant from the Key Peninsula Partnership for Healthy Communities and the Milgard Foundation.”
“My students loved their experience at the 1901 Midway School House,” Sauers said. “It brought history to life for them in a way we can’t in the classroom. I’m so appreciative of the opportunity the KP Community Council provided us. We would not have been able to do it otherwise.”
“Because of Evergreen’s remote location and limited resources,” Maxwell said, “we are not always able to send our students on field trips that enhance the educational experience they are receiving in the classroom. We know that an opportunity gap exists with many of our students due to family financial situations. Extra funding through grants, PTA fundraising and community donations help supplement district-supported busing helping to provide this sort of opportunity our students might otherwise never experience.
“The activities and exhibits our students experienced will stay with them long past this school year,” he said. “These opportunities help develop students’ sense of curiosity and inspire a love of learning.”
Hugh McMillan is a longtime contributing writer for the Gateway. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.