Crown Point students part of history

CROWN POINT - Crown Point Central School students wanted to be part of history. That's why the entire school - about 400 students, teachers and staff - made the trek to the Crown Point State Historic Site to participate in Champlain Quadricentennial events Sept. 18.

"We decided to take the entire school because of the unique opportunity it (the quadricentennial) presented," explained Shane Thelan, a social studies teacher. "Crown Point is a community school. We felt it was important for all students to be involved in this unique community event."

The celebration, which continued Sept. 19 with the re-dedication of the renovated Champlain Memorial lighthouse, marked the 400th anniversary of Samuel de Champlain's discovery of the lake that bears his name.

At the same time the annual Festival of Nations was taking place at the site.

The Festival of Nations celebrated the cultural heritage of the nations which, during the 1700s, left a lasting imprint on the Lake Champlain Valley: Canada, France, Great Britain, Native American Indian tribes, and the United States. It featured music, crafts, food, dance, games, family activities, clothing, folk life and customs.

Crown Point students took part in a variety of grade-level appropriate activities during their visit. To prepare for the adventure students read about de Champlain.

Students were able to see the Lois McClure, a replica schooner docked at Crown Point Reservation Campground's renovated steamboat dock. They also met "Samuel Champlain," portrayed by Don Thompson, and heard vocalist and instrumentalist Linda Russell perform music familiar to Lake Champlain inhabitants during the 1700s.

Highlighting the Sept. 18 activities was the re-dedication of the Champlain Memorial lighthouse.

Taking part in the re-dedication were Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Alexander "Pete" Grannis and French Ambassador Pierre Vimont.

A bust by French sculptor Auguste Rodin adorns the front of the lighthouse, and was a gift to the people of the Champlain Valley from France when the lighthouse was originally dedicated. It was built in 1858 and converted into a monument to the French explorer and dedicated in 1912.

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