With Hernando County Heritage Day approaching, Angela Kennedy, a history buff and Weeki Wachee High School English II teacher, saw a way to interest her students in their community while honing their academic skills.
The students prepared three tri-paneled boards that traced the history of local schools in their project: "From Old Spring Hill to Weeki Wachee High School; How Education Has Changed."
To Kennedy, the effort was a way to practice research skills, cooperation, writing, and comparing/contrasting. The students learned more than that.
Sabrina Luescher, 16, was particularly impressed with the school rules for teachers. In 1850, she said, teachers had to take water to school to boil for lunches. "And now, obviously, we have a cafeteria we go to. And the rules went into their social lives."
Teachers at that time were not allowed to be seen with a man other than her brother or father. "They weren't allowed to have a life," said Andriana Callahan. 14.
Leah Turner, 16, focused more on changes in physical buildings. "The schools changed also, like back then they had one room and now we have over 100 rooms," she said. "I find it quite nice."
Myles Cook, 16, Vanessa Moore, 16, and Steven James, 17, researched the courses and transportation of the earlier times. "In the 1850s," Myles said, "there was a lot of reading, writing and arithmetic." Boys studied drawing and art. Girls learned sewing, he said.
"Back then they had to walk to school," said Vanessa. This could have been as much as 10 miles in all kinds of weather. "Today you take the bus, because you can't really walk along (U.S.) 19," she said.
Steven concluded that, "Life back then in school was harder." But he said, "There weren't as many rules. They had different curricula. They were all in the same room."
William Peterman, 15, saw a difference in discipline between then and now. "Back in 1850, if you got in trouble in school, the trouble was taken home and you were punished, either with manual labor or (you) got beaten."
The panels containing all this history were taken to Heritage Day at the May-Stringer House in Brooksville last month.
It was "an event to celebrate the history of our county and this year the focus (was) on education," Kennedy said. "I decided to have the kids do this because it gave them something different to do to practice the skills for 10th grade and it gave them a purpose."
She said they did everything, forming their own groups, doing their own research and coming up with their own ideas. She did choose the size of the font for the panels. "I wanted all of them to look uniform," she said.