Sparta — After a quick lesson, Delaney Bjork and Jaxson Babcock concentrated together as they rang the bell at the old schoolhouse in Sparta.
Retired teacher and Myers School Museum docent Larry Carter showed them how it was done as they took the ropes.
“Okay, you guys can pull on it together, you got to have some rhythm to it,” he said. “Watch this. Listen for it (the bell). Okay, got it? See the rhythm. Okay, plug into the rhythm together. Nice. Keep it going.”
Delaney, Jaxson and the rest of the fifth-graders at Appleview Elementary recently connected with local history in a field trip to the museum, and also to the T.S. & M. Railroad Depot museum, a relic of the former Toledo, Saginaw and Muskegon Railway.
“Local is cool and cool is local,” said Carter, who took students around inside the schoolhouse explaining the difference between local and national history.
Other docents talked about an old windmill on the schoolhouse site and an old caboose and train station at the depot site. Students also blew off some steam in a spirited wheelbarrow race, a recess activity in days without playground equipment.
Lots of Cool Old Stuff
There was much to look at inside the schoolhouse including sports trophies, music uniforms, farming and carpentry tools, and photographs of Sparta graduating classes.
Students had their favorites.
“I liked the (organ),” said fifth-grader Weston Larson, who plays piano “a little bit.” Weston also thought the old windmill outside was cool. “I thought it was bigger,” he noted, comparing it to more modern windmills.
Bentley Monroe liked that the windmill is “100 years old.” Maci Momber liked the old Coke bottles, and classmate Sawyer Burns, the desks.
The school housed grades kindergarten through eighth grade until 1952. More information on the museums can be found at spartahistory.org.
‘Local is cool, and cool is local.’— docent Larry Carter
After taking the school bus to the depot, Yahir Macias and his classmates explored a caboose.
“This is my first time in a train,” Yahir said as he tried out the brake at the end of the train car. “The wheel is a hand brake,” said one docent. “It doesn’t steer the train.”
The docent also explained how the train operated without electronics and Wi-Fi, and how a conductor did paperwork at the desk and kept his lunch in an icebox.
Also at the depot site, students learned about the telegraph and teletype machines and train travel and shipping in an age with no cars or cell phones.
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