Reed City kids go 'old school'

REED CITY — Imagine taking a step back in time to 19th century Michigan.

Reed City fifth graders take a trip every year to a village that does just that. The White Pine Village in Mason County was opened in 1976 and gives students the experience what life was like over a century ago. The village is a small town community of 25 buildings containing thousands of artifacts.

Since the students learn about this period of time in their social studies class, the trip truly brings history to life for them.

Volunteers walk students through the significance of each building. In the sawmill shed, they learned about the importance of lumber industry here in Michigan. Many students learned that constructing a log cabin isn’t as easy as simply playing with a set of lincoln logs. A working replica of the late Abe Nelsons blacksmith shop showed them how many useful tools were made.

An old print shop displaying several working printing presses brought a whole new meaning to copy machine as they learned how printed paper was made. Shopping at the old general store for candy was a special treat.

Surprisingly, even on a field trip, students were excited to go back to school! The Marchido School is a typical one room school house that housed kindergarten through eighth grade. Sitting at old desks, complete with a slate board to write on, students attentively listened to volunteer David Jibson describe a typical school day. School lunch was more appealing after hearing that children often brought lard sandwiches with them.

Completing their last year at G.T. Norman, this trip for the fifth grade class gave them a fun way to see how things were done in their ancestors’ days instead of just reading it in their social studies books. Several would even comment about their grandparents during the trip.

“My grandfather is the one that got me really interested in law,” Peyton Knight said as he looked in amazement at the old law books lining a bookshelf in the courthouse.

A trip to the village was one of those learning experiences that help to bridge the gaps between generations.