If anyone was close to Joseph Pye Elementary School on March 21 they might have heard the distinctive sound of a cannon going off.
All day long Pye students were participating in Living History Day. The school hosted the HL Hunley Camp #143 reenactment group on the campus. The soldiers from the Hunley Camp bring the replica of the Hunley submarine and camp out on the school grounds the night before the event. Throughout the day students from all grade levels rotated through different exhibits to learn more about the Civil War era, and got to see a cannon demonstration.
The event was organized by Ashlee Rollison, STEAM Integration teacher at Pye. Rollinson said Pye Elementary hosted the same event two years ago and it was a huge success.
“It’s an educational field trip,” Rollinson said. “We wanted them to have a chance to be a part of the history.”
Students got to check out four stations: the Hunley replica, a candle-making demonstration, a lesson in infantry and a lesson in artillery – which included the cannon.
“They loved it, which is why we brought it back,” Rollinson said. “The part that excites them the most is when the cannon goes off.”
Each station was led by a Civil War reenactor. When the cannon was shot the kids were ordered to plug their ears, and were reassured there was nothing actually being fired from the cannon – just black powder.
Ashlyn Reeves’s first grade class got really into the candle-making station. Reeves said the field trip was timely because they have recently been talking about notable American historic figures like President Abraham Lincoln.
“The students are definitely learning,” she said. “They wanted to make the candles.”
Camden Barber in Persis Buffum’s fourth grade class enjoyed the cannon demonstration.
“I thought it was really cool because it had a really loud explosion and all the smoke at the end,” he said.
Barber added that he learned a lot from the event.
“I learned you can make a candle out of animal fat,” he said, “and that the HL Hunley was 42 feet.”
Rollinson’s daughter Addison, who is in Haley Cantey’s kindergarten class, also said she enjoyed the experience.
“I loved it,” she said. “I learned that kids made candles and that they didn’t have steering wheels inside the submarine – they had to turn stuff to make it go.”