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Clinton County history being seen through the 'eyes of its children'

CHAZY The library at Chazy Central Rural School was filled with students last week, but they werent cramming for midterms or looking for a place to read their favorite book. They were preparing to make history. Seventh-grade students in Justin B. Frechettes social studies class were researching local history Nov. 12 as part of a collaborative project being held in school districts across Clinton County. The students are taking part in Clinton County History through the Eyes of its Children, a project which will involve students creating tiles for a mosaic mural to be installed at the Clinton County Government Center in Plattsburgh next year. The project, explained Frechette, is being conducted in honor of the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial that will be recognized next year. It began with students from each school researching a specific time period and will continue with using that research to create posters and essays about what theyve learned. The posters are then to be used by the students to make 4 inch by 4 inch tiles that will go into making the mosaic mural, which will measure 35 feet long and 10 feet high. When we were given the project we had to sit down and determine if we were going to do it to get it done with or really make it a memorable learning experience for our kids, said Frechette. We decided to go the route of learning experience and thats exactly what its been. Its making history come alive for them. As was the case with other school districts, Chazy students were assigned a specific time period to focus on for the project. Frechettes class was given 1780-1800, which is the time of the settlement of Clinton County and when the county seal was created. Students were then divided into groups that were assigned to each of the countys 14 townships, including groups for the city of Plattsburgh and the county itself. Due to the schools library having limited resources, and the scarcity of information from that point in the countys history, Frechette invited historians from across the county to meet with the students. Maeghan McDonald, one of Frechettes students who was researching the town of Champlain, said having the historians there gave additional insight about the towns when it sometimes couldnt be found in a book. It really helped that the historians for each town came in to tell us about them, because weve been looking information up on computers and in books, but we couldnt find a lot from back then, said McDonald. I wish there were pictures from back then, but obviously there werent cameras. Clinton County Historian Anastasia Pratt, who was among the historians present during the research project last week, said she was excited to see the students take such a vested interest in the project. Its a really hands-on, all-encompassing history project to celebrate the quadricentennial but also just to celebrate life in Clinton County, said Pratt. Theyre learning about history, but theyre also creating some history. To have a mosaic going on the government building and know, in theory, that in 20 years they could come back with their own kids to see it is just amazing. Frechette and his students couldnt agree more. We always learn about history and talk about history, but this this project actually allows the students to make history, said Frechette. This is a project that will end up being a legacy of Clinton County, the county they live in. Paige Garnot, who was assigned to study the town of Chazy, said she was excited to learn more about the town she lives in and even more so because she was able to be part of the project. I think its really neat, because out of all the grades, they picked the 7th grade, said Garnot. Its neat because when we have kids or grandkids, well get to bring them to see it and say I made that when I was in 7th grade. Not a lot of people get to do something like this, said McDonald. Its something people are going to remember and something that will be here forever. The project, which was conceived by retired teachers Sandra Morse and Bucky Seiden of Peru and artist Sue Young of Jay, will be complete next summer when the mural will be unveiled in Plattsburgh, said Pratt. The mural, upon its completion, will represent the years prior to explorer Samuel de Champlains arrival in America in 1608 to 1878, when the village of Keeseville was chartered. The project is being funded, in part, from the state, with additional grants and donations being pursued. Those interested in contributing to the project may contact Pratt at 565-4749.

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