Finishing the Puzzle

Puzzles are messy. You start with a pile of mixed up pieces and begin framing the whole picture. This week, our puzzle frame started with the first settlement at Jamestown followed by the inside pieces of the puzzle that contained sprawling lush plantations, stately manor homes, colonial shops and trades, and the early government of the Virginia colony.


Today, we were fortunate to have our great National Park tour guide from Jamestown Settlement join us to engage our fifth graders with the final battle of the American Revolution. Our visit to Yorktown, where Lord Cornwallis surrendered to Commander-In-Chief of the Allied Forces George Washington, was the final piece. And it was messy… from the cramped living spaces (like six men to a tiny tent) to the barbaric medicinal practices (like crude dental tools and poor diagnoses), to harsh punishments for even simple crimes and to extreme weather.


He highlighted how winning America’s independence from the British was a result of a number of “puzzle” pieces that came together for the Americans. One piece was the fact that we benefited from cannons that shot further than the British, which our guide and one of our fifth graders demonstrated using a ping pong ball and baseball. We proved that heavier cannonballs simply traveled further. Another piece was the outbreak of smallpox amongst British troops during this battle, which Washington wisely used to his advantage.


Another interesting piece of the puzzle related to how the Americans used the ravine between the infamous redoubts 9 and 10. This had been a mystery to park rangers and historians for over a hundred years, until a fifth grader on a school field trip a number of years ago made an observation that noted historians had never made. Our park ranger started on Monday by encouraging us to explore the mysteries and investigate the stories for ourselves. He ended our week on Friday with how a child their own age did just that. Hopefully, it inspires our children to continue to ask questions, make connections, and complete the puzzle.


We completed the day by inserting the few last pieces to our colonial puzzle – visiting a couple of final trade shops in Williamsburg, doing a bit of shopping, and eating one more fabulous meal together. The group has had an amazing educational trip full of bonding, discovery, learning and making memories… and now we are all very ready to come home! We cannot wait to share our stories!


by Chris Lemieux & Susan Reudelhuber, parent bloggers

Back in Time

No, we are not referring to the hit song from Michael J. Fox’s debut in Back to the Future in the 1980s. That is definitely before our children’s time, but nowhere near as far back as our adventures at Shirley Plantation and Monticello. The concept of time seemed to creep quietly into all of our conversations and tours throughout the day. And even with nearly 300 years between the building of these famous homes and today, many aspects of our lives remain constant but are just manifested differently.


At Shirley Plantation, the fifth graders experienced a hands-on activity that is a daily part of their life, one that many probably do not really enjoy (don’t tell our teachers!)…HANDWRITING. In their Geneva classrooms back home, students have access to plenty of pencils, paper, erasers, and dictionaries. However, back in the 1700s, paper was in short supply; quills and ink were used; and many did not know correct grammar and spelling. In fact, our fifth graders were shocked to find out that many of our historical documents, like the Declaration of Independence, contain grammatical and spelling errors!

Back then, one did not have unlimited paper and ink to re-do work! Ink is permanent; it’s messy and gloppy – there’s no erasing a mistake. Nor did anyone have time to go back and correct errors. Our kids experienced how long it takes to write a simple letter in this fashion. Imagine if they used quill and ink for their reader’s responses!

One of the more humorous moments comparing modern day life to colonial life came from our great Shirley Plantation guide. As we toured the historic home, he explained that those who lived on the plantation loved to socialize just like we do. Back then, they had Face Time… two sofas where people actually faced each other and talked. They had selfies… just take a look in the mirror. They had twitter… go outside and listen to the birds. They even had Facebook… when you could find one’s face in a book, reading! As our trip is electronic free, our children did find much joy simply running through the fields and dandelions outside Shirley Plantation just as the last eleven generations of the Hill Carter family.


At Monticello, the children noted many differences in the architecture and design of the home as compared to Shirley Plantation. Whereas Shirley Plantation was more of a traditional plantation, Monticello – nearly 250 years old – was constructed with features we find in our own homes today. Do you have sky lights in some rooms? Our guide pointed out this very modern addition Jefferson worked into the architecture after his time in France. Do you see popular stores like IKEA promoting wise use of small spaces? Jefferson was already on that bandwagon… he built his bed into the wall to create more open space in his bedrooms. We’d love to show you these “historic” features but no indoor pictures were permitted.


Even Jefferson’s grandchildren thrived on activities our fifth graders still love today, like playing hide and seek in the big house or quieter games like chess and running across the large spacious grassy lawns outside Monticello.


We ended our day at Covenant School where our gracious hosts provided an opportunity for our children to have some much needed recess and a pizza dinner!

by Chris Lemieux & Susan Reudelhuber, parent blogggers

Getting into Character

There’s something to be said for “going all out” and getting into character. Well, Geneva fifth graders and their chaperones rose to the occasion, dressed in their finest, and shined as colonists in Colonial Williamsburg!

Our day centered around experiencing daily life in the early 1800’s and what it took to live during that time. Let’s just take shoes for example. Don’t we just run up to the store, select from a large variety, try one or two on, buy them and not ever wonder about how they are actually made? Something as simple as shoes became a mesmerizing moment for our boys with a visit to the cobblers. Thoughtful questions poured out: How much did a pair of shoes cost? How many pairs were needed each year? Where did the raw materials come from? How long did it take to make each pair of shoes? Did the cobbler maintain an inventory or were the shoes custom made? It was neat to see the boys putting themselves “in the shoes” of colonial customers.


It was not all work and no play back in the day though. Colonial children still had an chance to have fun and so did our fifth graders. One of the games colonial games children enjoyed was hoop trundling and we all had the chance to take a break from some serious learning and let loose with a hoop and stick. Although we saw many great costumed guides and hosts, there were no children representing daily life and activities. Thus we found that tourists were stopping to watch our “colonial” children take part in and re-enact what it may have been like to have kids running around in the 1800s.


Throughout the day and the various directions our groups went (we had afternoon free time with our chaperones to explore the historic district), many of us were praised by other tourists and groups for our attire. We also found it easier to converse with guides and docents and ask questions, feeling more a part of history.


We wrapped up the evening enjoying a turkey dinner at the tavern with George Washington – well, we may as well have eaten with him, as he had actually dined at the same tavern. Following dinner, we participated in an authentic colonial dance and dance lessons… which definitely wouldn’t have been the same experience had we all been in jeans!

It was a memorable day witnessing how getting into character helped history truly come alive for our fifth graders throughout the day!


by Chris Lemieux & Susan Reudelhuber, parent bloggers

Questions!

Questions, questions, questions seemed to be the theme of the day.

The questions began with our guide introducing the idea that many more mysteries remain unanswered and unresolved by historians and archeologists regarding Jamestown, the first permanent settlement in America.

While you can read about Jamestown in books and on the internet, there is so much you cannot learn without actually being here and experiencing it firsthand. Our morning guide whetted our appetites for the “mystery” and the desire to investigate the story for ourselves by asking our own questions and making connections.


For example, we were all amazed that excavation continues even today at Jamestown. Just two weeks ago a never-before-uncovered grave of a knight from the 1600s was discovered!


And as we explored the museum after lunch, it was exciting to hear kids listen to their guides, read the displays, and make their own connections… …why was a knight here in Jamestown in the first place? …what if that knight mentioned in the Virginia Company of London was connected to the recent discovery?

And, oh my, the questions for the children never ended. Our fifth graders did not disappoint and responded with enthusiasm and creative responses that were not always expected by our tour guides. (One student was even promoted to Assistant Guide for their multiple correct answers.)


Our morning guide also encouraged our students to answer all questions with great confidence, not “like a dog barking from the porch.” Taking that to heart, a great moment occurred when one of our groups was touring the church in the fort of Jamestown Settlement. The guide explained that back in the day it was law that colonists attend church twice daily, and punishments were harsh for disobedience.

Guide: What do you think punishment was for missing one church service?

Fifth grader: Execution! (loudly with confidence)

Guide: No…the colonist lost out on a meal. What do you think punishment was for missing two church services?

(Same) Fifth grader: Execution!!! (just as loudly)

Guide: No…the colonist was whipped. What do you think punishment was for missing three church services?

(Same) Fifth grader: EXECUTION!!!!!!!

Guide: Yes!!!

Her confident and persistent answer paid off: colonists, in fact, WERE executed for missing three church services!


Ultimately, this little interaction led to more questions in one smaller chaperone group. Was this punishment really Christian? They tossed around the idea that it was law, but it was the king’s law. So then they pondered what prevails… the king’s law? or God’s word? And what was God’s word? The ten commandments?

Questions. Contemplation. Connections.

They made for a fabulous day of learning history and making memories as a class.

by Chris Lemieux and Susan Reudelhuber, parent bloggers

We’ve Arrived!

After 775 miles, 16 hours, pouring rain, two meals at Cracker Barrel, and plenty of silliness, we arrived safely in Williamsburg. Although the day started early this morning, the kids’ energy levels could fool you: the laughter, endless chatter, and enthusiasm lasted strong throughout the whole day. Even the rain and inability to run off some energy at our second rest stop didn’t damper anyone’s mood. It was wonderful to hear giggles and joy permeating throughout each bus!


Halfway through the day, a bus and seat shuffle change saw all the boys in the orange bus and all the girls in the green bus. It would be important to note that many of the dad chaperones took the opportunity to nap (we have much photographic evidence of this!) and rumor has it the girls bus reached the higher decibel levels!

Creativity took hold for many of the girls, including knitting, cross stitching, and hand painting. And the “Watch Your Mouth” game led some to a couple hours of silly talk to pass the time. The boys brought out Rubik’s cubes and books, chess games, and cards. Friendly competition reigned!


During our double Cracker Barrel adventure, it was fun to see the kids choosing their meals and using their math skills to figure out how much money they were able to spend on food, factoring in tip and tax. While gathering on the patio after our lunchtime meal, one chaperone shared how impressed he was with the kindness and generosity of his group. He had explained to them how to calculate a 15% tip, and even after the kids figured out the appropriate amount, they wanted to give more generously – one kid genuinely wanted to give 50%!

Another chaperone shared how their table was provided such nice service and complimented the kids on their manners and ordering – and she ended the meal by giving our chaperone a big hug! Mrs. Raesly enjoyed getting lots of compliments on the kids’ behavior, too!

To take full advantage of the last leg of the trip, the kids completed their devotions for the day and prayed for continued safe travels, good weather, and lots of fun, and then settled in to watch “Despicable Me.”

And given the late hour and long travel day, that’s a wrap on Day 1. Everyone is anxiously looking forward to the real start to our Williamsburg adventure tomorrow morning! Thanks to everyone for their prayers!

by Susan Reudelhuber, parent blogger

And They’re Off! – Williamsburg 2017

The buses carrying our 47 students, 3 teachers & administrators, 17 chaperones, and 2 drivers pulled out from The Geneva School at 6:30am sharp this morning, starting the fifth grade’s journey to Williamsburg! Here are some photos from the morning’s journey…


Rest area in Georgia.

Cracker Barrel lunch stop.
The Geneva School
The Geneva School
September 20, 2019
  • US - A Schedule

    Date: September 20, 2019 - September 20, 2019
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

  • Progress Reports Sent Home (3rd-6th)

    Date: September 20, 2019 - September 20, 2019
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

  • LSC Convo

    Date: September 20, 2019 - September 20, 2019
    Time: 8:25 am- 8:40 am
    See more details

  • 6th Gr - TEAM Day

    Date: September 20, 2019 - September 20, 2019
    Time: 8:30 am- 2:30 pm
    See more details

  • 7th & 8th Gr - Moms Coffee

    Date: September 20, 2019 - September 20, 2019
    Time: 8:30 am- 10:30 am
    See more details

  • MS Coed Soccer Home Game vs. Kingsway

    Date: September 20, 2019 - September 20, 2019
    Time: 4:30 pm- 5:30 pm
    See more details

September 21, 2019
  • 7 & 8 Grade Choirs, Rhetoric Choir & Ladies Choir Retreat

    Date: September 21, 2019 - September 21, 2019
    Time: 9:00 am- 1:00 pm
    See more details

  • JV volleyball Tournament

    Date: September 21, 2019 - September 21, 2019
    Time: 9:00 am- 4:00 pm
    See more details

  • Katie Kaples - Bishop Kenny High School

    Date: September 21, 2019 - September 21, 2019
    Time: 3:45 pm- 9:30 pm
    See more details

September 23, 2019
  • US - A Schedule

    Date: September 23, 2019 - September 23, 2019
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

  • Moms in Prayer

    Date: September 23, 2019 - September 23, 2019
    Time: 8:15 am- 9:15 am
    See more details

  • LSC Convo

    Date: September 23, 2019 - September 23, 2019
    Time: 8:25 am- 8:40 am
    See more details

  • MS COED Soccer Home Match vs. Hope Charter

    Date: September 23, 2019 - September 23, 2019
    Time: 4:30 pm- 5:30 pm
    See more details

  • 11th Gr - College Night for Juniors

    Date: September 23, 2019 - September 23, 2019
    Time: 6:00 pm- 7:15 pm
    See more details

September 24, 2019
  • US - A Schedule

    Date: September 24, 2019 - September 24, 2019
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

  • National Punctuation Day

    Date: September 24, 2019 - September 24, 2019
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

  • 3rd Gr - Character Day

    Date: September 24, 2019 - September 24, 2019
    Time: 8:15 am- 3:00 pm
    See more details

  • LSC Convo

    Date: September 24, 2019 - September 24, 2019
    Time: 8:25 am- 8:40 am
    See more details

  • Girls MS Volleyball Away Match vs. ICS

    Date: September 24, 2019 - September 24, 2019
    Time: 4:00 pm- 5:00 pm
    See more details

  • MS Coed Soccer Away Game vs. Faith

    Date: September 24, 2019 - September 24, 2019
    Time: 4:30 pm- 5:30 pm
    See more details

  • MS CC Meet at Trinity Prep

    Date: September 24, 2019 - September 24, 2019
    Time: 4:30 pm- 5:45 pm
    See more details

  • Girls JV Volleyball Away Match vs. ICS

    Date: September 24, 2019 - September 24, 2019
    Time: 5:00 pm- 6:00 pm
    See more details

  • Girls Varsity Volleyball Away Match vs. ICS

    Date: September 24, 2019 - September 24, 2019
    Time: 6:00 pm- 7:00 pm
    See more details

  • 7th - 9th Gr - Discovering Math at Geneva

    Date: September 24, 2019 - September 24, 2019
    Time: 7:00 pm- 8:00 pm
    See more details

September 20, 2019
  • US - A Schedule

    Date: September 20, 2019 - September 20, 2019
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

  • Progress Reports Sent Home (3rd-6th)

    Date: September 20, 2019 - September 20, 2019
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

  • LSC Convo

    Date: September 20, 2019 - September 20, 2019
    Time: 8:25 am- 8:40 am
    See more details

  • 6th Gr - TEAM Day

    Date: September 20, 2019 - September 20, 2019
    Time: 8:30 am- 2:30 pm
    See more details

  • 7th & 8th Gr - Moms Coffee

    Date: September 20, 2019 - September 20, 2019
    Time: 8:30 am- 10:30 am
    See more details

  • MS Coed Soccer Home Game vs. Kingsway

    Date: September 20, 2019 - September 20, 2019
    Time: 4:30 pm- 5:30 pm
    See more details

September 21, 2019
  • 7 & 8 Grade Choirs, Rhetoric Choir & Ladies Choir Retreat

    Date: September 21, 2019 - September 21, 2019
    Time: 9:00 am- 1:00 pm
    See more details

  • JV volleyball Tournament

    Date: September 21, 2019 - September 21, 2019
    Time: 9:00 am- 4:00 pm
    See more details

  • Katie Kaples - Bishop Kenny High School

    Date: September 21, 2019 - September 21, 2019
    Time: 3:45 pm- 9:30 pm
    See more details

September 23, 2019
  • US - A Schedule

    Date: September 23, 2019 - September 23, 2019
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

  • Moms in Prayer

    Date: September 23, 2019 - September 23, 2019
    Time: 8:15 am- 9:15 am
    See more details

  • LSC Convo

    Date: September 23, 2019 - September 23, 2019
    Time: 8:25 am- 8:40 am
    See more details

  • MS COED Soccer Home Match vs. Hope Charter

    Date: September 23, 2019 - September 23, 2019
    Time: 4:30 pm- 5:30 pm
    See more details

  • 11th Gr - College Night for Juniors

    Date: September 23, 2019 - September 23, 2019
    Time: 6:00 pm- 7:15 pm
    See more details

September 24, 2019
  • US - A Schedule

    Date: September 24, 2019 - September 24, 2019
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

  • National Punctuation Day

    Date: September 24, 2019 - September 24, 2019
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

  • 3rd Gr - Character Day

    Date: September 24, 2019 - September 24, 2019
    Time: 8:15 am- 3:00 pm
    See more details

  • LSC Convo

    Date: September 24, 2019 - September 24, 2019
    Time: 8:25 am- 8:40 am
    See more details

  • Girls MS Volleyball Away Match vs. ICS

    Date: September 24, 2019 - September 24, 2019
    Time: 4:00 pm- 5:00 pm
    See more details

  • MS Coed Soccer Away Game vs. Faith

    Date: September 24, 2019 - September 24, 2019
    Time: 4:30 pm- 5:30 pm
    See more details

  • MS CC Meet at Trinity Prep

    Date: September 24, 2019 - September 24, 2019
    Time: 4:30 pm- 5:45 pm
    See more details

  • Girls JV Volleyball Away Match vs. ICS

    Date: September 24, 2019 - September 24, 2019
    Time: 5:00 pm- 6:00 pm
    See more details

  • Girls Varsity Volleyball Away Match vs. ICS

    Date: September 24, 2019 - September 24, 2019
    Time: 6:00 pm- 7:00 pm
    See more details

  • 7th - 9th Gr - Discovering Math at Geneva

    Date: September 24, 2019 - September 24, 2019
    Time: 7:00 pm- 8:00 pm
    See more details

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