Bay Village fourth-graders use Skype to visit Statehouse observance of Lincolnís funeral

Union soldier re-enactors on the Statehouse lawn in Columbus with one of the original cannons used in a 21-gun salute to President Lincoln. Photo by Char Shryock

A 150-year anniversary observance took place last week commemorating the stop in Columbus of President Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train as it made its way from Washington, D.C., to Lincoln’s home in Springfield, Illinois. Fourth-graders at Bay Village’s Westerly Elementary School had a front-seat view of it all thanks to Skype and the district’s curriculum director, Char Shryock.

“I had to be in Columbus for another reason, and I saw that the observance was taking place,” said Shryock. “Our fourth-grade students have been studying the Civil War through the lens of Ohio history, and as it happens, I was able to leave early for my meeting so that I could Skype everything back to Westerly. Many of those funeral events were recreated, including a replica casket placed in the Statehouse rotunda. Historical interpreters were dressed in period clothing as part of a Civil War encampment on the Statehouse grounds.”

Shryock said the students were able to virtually meet two Union soldiers who explained their uniforms and weapons, and they learned that soldiers made $13 a month. A member of the Lady's Aid Society showed them how to rip fabric strips into gauze and bandages. Two women who had come to pay their respects to President Lincoln talked about the four layers of clothing that were part of their daily dress.

Inside the statehouse, the class had a chance to hear from the son of a family who had come to see Lincoln. The boy explained that many people felt Lincoln was like a father to the country and were saddened by his death. 

“We also looked together at original newspapers and photographs on display,” said Shryock. “Two honor guards stood watch over the casket during the afternoon. Outside on the lawn, we got to watch sack races and children playing with wooden hoops. Two original cannons were on the grounds, and were being fired throughout the afternoon.”

Teacher Patrick Kelly explained the value of the virtual visit. “Making history come to life in a meaningful way is one of the great challenges of teaching social studies,” he said. “This event allowed our students a glimpse back in time to see the reality of 150 years ago and experience a pivotal moment in our nation's history. Experiences like this force us to consider multiple perspectives as we learn, virtually strip away the confines of a classroom, and add immeasurable value to the curriculum.”

"The students loved the opportunity to see Ohio history being celebrated in Columbus in real time,” said teacher Kelli McMaugh. “And there is no doubt about it – seeing and hearing the cannon being shot was one of their favorite highlights!"

Karen Derby

Director of Communications for the Bay Village City School District

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Volume 7, Issue 9, Posted 9:17 AM, 05.05.2015