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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Pioneer Day teaches Roachdale fourth graders about prairie life in Indiana

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Banner Graphic/MICHAEL LOGLI Joe Smith fires his rifle into an open field while the fourth-graders of Roachdale Elementary cover their ears. The students experienced prairie life firsthand during their Pioneer Day event. [Order this photo]
ROACHDALE -- Joe Smith fills his gun, which he made himself, with black powder before preparing the lead pellet and using the ramrod to fully load the rifle. He points to the open field to the east and fires the rifle. The horseshoe of pioneer-clothed fourth-graders around Smith cries out in shock, some covering their ears, as he fires without real warning.

"Whoa. My ears are ringing," one student said.

This was the beginning of Roachdale Elementary School's Pioneer Day, and it had been the beginning of the day for 31 years. Smith has been giving the same demonstration every Pioneer Day since then.

The day goes hand in hand with the lessons of the year as fourth-graders learn all about life in Indiana on the prairie inside and outside of the classroom, said John Shannon, fourth-grade teacher.

"They like it better than sitting in the classroom," Shannon said. "We have many kids that learn better hands-on. If they're touching, they're learning a lot more."

The second fourth-grade class, headed by Julie Black, also shared in the various pioneer-style experiences, including quilting, spinning, butter making and candle dipping.

Volunteers were a big reason for the different demonstrations, including the Roachdale VFW sponsoring a kettle-cooked stew for lunch and the Putnam County Spinners and Weavers Guild demonstrating how to use looms.

Shannon said he was thankful the community continues to support the event after all these years.

"We wouldn't be able to do this without them," Shannon said.

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