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Isaac Brock brings history alive
Heritage classroom opens ahead of school centennial
Isaac Brock School cut the ribbon and started bringing students into their Heritage Classroom Museum last Wednesday.
"When you’re going through this door it’s like you’re going through a portal in time," teacher Darcie Kiene, dressed in a long flower-pattern dress, told a group of fifth-and sixth grade Isaac Brockites waiting in the hallway.
The room, which was moved from École La Vérendrye in Fort Rouge, is reminiscent of a late 19th/early 20th-century classroom, complete with bench-style desks and a raised platform for the teacher.
"Back in the day the teachers would stand on a stage higher than everyone else," Kiene told students, explaining it was to remind them the teacher was in charge.
Discipline for students who defied teachers was different 100 years ago, she said. Sitting in the corner with a cone hat was a possibility for a misbehaving pupil, or worse.
"The strap and corporal punishment were part of it…we know now that’s not a good idea and we don’t do that anymore. We have other ways," she told them.
Kiene, who is based at École La Vérendrye, will give lessons in the Isaac Brock heritage classroom one day a week.
"It’s open to all schools in the division. Anyone can come, free of charge, and I’ve got programs ready to go," she said.
Kiene used a vintage crank phonograph to play a 1907 recording of School Days for the students. She allowed the record to slow down, demonstrating the need for a few more cranks to bring it up to speed again.
"I call it my giant iPod," she told them.
Old lesson books sit on her desk, and a large collection of books from the era fill bookshelves at the back of the room, which Kiene told students were able to survive this long because they were treated with care and respect.
From there, she segued into talking about attitudes towards material things that existed 100 years ago.
If she ripped her long floral dress on a nail sticking out of her teaching platform, Kiene said, she would repair it. If it couldn’t be repaired, it would be made into a pillowcase or put it towards a quilt.
"Nothing was thrown out," she said.
Nine old photos from the school, including Grade 8 girls on skates circa 1937 and the 1919 Isaac Brock track team, have been enlarged and dry-mounted for handling. Kiene used them to contrast the past with the present for students.
She explained to a group of nursery and kindergarten children that Isaac Brock School — itself a living piece of history — is marking its centennial this year.
"The school is having a special birthday — 100 years old," Kiene told them, which led one little girl to let out a sustained "wow" in hushed amazement.
After feeling the weight of a slate that students used for writing on long ago, six-year-old Abby Schnerch declared the classroom "cool."
The old phonograph, she said, is "bigger than a music player."
Principal Sherry Anderson said she was pleased with students’ reaction to the classroom.
"Interest is extremely high, and whenever students are engaged, they’re learning," Anderson said.
She said her goal was to get the classroom completed and let all of the school’s students — about 300 — experience it before the school’s May 23 to 25 centennial reunion and celebration.
To see old photos of Isaac Brock School or for information on centennial events go online to isaacbrock100.com
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