introduced students to weapons, music, culture and clothing of the
early 1860s. Three million people from the northern and southern
states clashed over power and slavery, and more than 600,000 died in
"It was nice to get detail you might not get in books," said
Meagan Denos, 14. "It really gives us an inside story."
As Meagan and other students gathered on the school's field,
actors depicting a Confederate artillery unit from New Orleans set
up cannon and wartime living conditions. Dressed in gray wool
uniforms, they talked about reasons for the war and soldiers' pay
rates, and showed off weapons such as the smooth-bore cannon, which
was fired once by eighth-grade U.S. history teacher Adam Grant. But
across campus, more eighth-graders were stomping their feet as a
hoedown enveloped the gym.
There, actors playing Union soldiers set up a small campground,
flanked by Don Ancell, as Abraham Lincoln, and Roger M. Knox, as a
Union soldier from the 83rd Pennsylvania Volunteers. With a fake
piece of salt pork on a frying pan and a banjo player, they showed
the humble conditions in the camps. Ancell talked about Lincoln's
youth, and how he became president.
"This is more real for them," Grant said. "They can touch the tent
and hear the cannon. It gives the students tangible, real-life
exposure to the experience of people we read about in a textbook."