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The Lake News Online
  • An authentic learning experience

  • Over the weekend, history became more than just words on a page for a group of Camdenton Middle School students.
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  • Over the weekend, history became more than just words on a page for a group of Camdenton Middle School students. During a two-day trip to Springfield, Ill., 29 students got up close and personal with the places that were a huge part of Abraham Lincoln's life.
    "Students get a kick out of visiting places they have seen on television or heard about in class.  This weekend, students walked where Lincoln walked, were inside the buildings that Lincoln visited and touched some of the things that Lincoln touched," CMS teacher Matthew Hendon said. "Trips like these give students perspective of places and times that is impossible to get from inside a classroom."
    The trip was open to any seventh or eighth grade student and whomever signed up first got to attend. Since it was over two days, Hendon described it as a 'whirlwind trip.'
    "We saw quite a few sites plus our travel, all in 36 hours.  It started with going to Lincoln’s young adult home of New Salem.  As the trip progressed we followed his life by seeing his family home, his law office and the old Illinois capitol where Lincoln progressed his career.  The next day, we visited the amazing Lincoln Presidential Museum that allows visitors to have a 'walk through' his life and we wrapped up the trip by visiting Lincoln’s tomb.  By the end of the trip, students gained a perspective on who Lincoln was, how he changed, who his family was and what the nation was like around Lincoln and later because of Lincoln," Hendon said.
    Students woke up before the sun rose Saturday and left the middle school at 6 a.m. They began their weekend adventure by stopping at New Salem Village in Petersburg, Ill. Later in the afternoon, the students toured the former State Capital building before visiting Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices, Lincoln's home and visitor center.
    "I was so happy with the response of the trip.  When you plan a trip, sometimes you worry that students are only using the trip to get out of town and have no excitement for the subject.  On this trip, all of the students appeared to be extremely happy with what they were seeing and learning," Hendon added. 
    On Sunday, the group woke up early and toured the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. Following the museum tour, the students visited war memorials at Oak Ridge Cemetery. The students arrived safely back at the middle school around 6 p.m. that evening.
    Hendon had two other chaperones, teachers Heather Sappington and Karin Brambilla, help him over the weekend.
    According to Hendon, this is the first year that he has taken students on this particular trip but has planned similar ones to Washington, D.C. and New York City.
    Page 2 of 2 - "I grew up in Illinois and a trip to Springfield to see Lincoln sites is something that it seems every child has done from where I grew up.  Since I was familiar and have a great deal of interest in the sites, it seemed like a great place to explore with students so they can also begin to develop a passion for American history, Lincoln, and history in general," Hendon said.
     Eighth grader Daniel Nunez commented, "It was amazing and I love the learning about this and it was the coolest thing I have been to in my whole life."
    Other students echoed Nunez's sentiments.
    "The trip was incredibly fun and educational. I learned many new things about Lincoln and I got to hang out with my friends," eighth grader Mariah Flagg said.
    Eighth grade student Cory Eskridge said that he would recommend going on one of Hendon's trips to other students.
    "The trip was the best trip I have ever been on. We did many fun things.  I would recommend anyone who has a chance to go on one of Mr. Hendon’s trips, they should take the opportunity and have the time of their life," Eskridge said.
    Just a day after the group has returned from Illinois, Hendon reflected on his favorite moment, "My favorite part about this trip and the others I have planned is seeing students excited about studying history.  This is an authentic learning experience that many will never forget.  They got a major introduction into the life of Abraham Lincoln and our nation’s history.  It was fun to watch the students go from barely knowing about the mid 1800s to talking about it with their friends and asking chaperones and museum personnel very detailed questions about the Lincoln family and their times."

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