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Hundreds of students get lesson close up

September 12, 1997

By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Staff Writer

The mock cannon blasts and gunfire left the battlefield a little too smoky for 9-year-old Ansar Ali's taste.

Still, the afternoon battle demonstration had to be the best part of the 135th Commemoration of the Battle of Antietam event, said the Fountaindale Elementary School fifth-grader.

Classmates Ben Poole and Mary Ellen Leap, watching the action from alongside Ansar, agreed.

"I like it. You get to see something you couldn't see in real life," said Ben, 10.

"It's neat. I've never seen little kids in the uniforms," said Mary, 9, who said she was impressed by all the people involved, particularly the child re-enactors.

The three were among hundreds of elementary, middle and high school students who took class trips to the event Friday, when organizers offered free tours to school groups.

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At least 150 bus loads of students came from throughout the region, said event coordinator Greg Larsen.

Hickory Elementary School teacher Cathy Scuffins said the event - including military and civilian encampments, historical demonstrations and mock fighting - offered the perfect field trip for her students.

"It kind of goes with our fourth-grade curriculum. We study the history of Maryland, and we talk about the Civil War," Scuffins said.

She said she thought the half-day tour would prove a valuable learning experience.

"I think when they see it here alive it will be more meaningful for them. Maybe they'll understand a little more," Scuffins said.

Conococheague Elementary School fourth-grader Adam Kriner said he didn't know much about the Civil War before coming out to the event but was learning a lot.

Adam, 9, said he especially liked the field hospital and cannon demonstrations.

Hickory Elementary School fourth-grader Angie Kershner said she got to participate in the field hospital demonstration, when she was chosen to pose as a soldier getting his arm amputated.

Angie, 9, said bugs kept jumping on her as she tried to lie motionless in the grass.

"None of the stuff they did to me tickled. Only the crickets tickled," she said.

Springfield Middle School eighth-grader Sarah Strite said she was enjoying the living history lesson, particularly her visit to the blacksmith shop.

"I think it's neat to see how they built things out of metal in the past and how it's changed so much," said Strite, 13.

Hickory Elementary School fourth-grader Stevie Joy, 9, said she liked seeing how women dressed "back in the old days" and how they lived.

Stevie said she came hoping to find a parasol among the sutlers' wares.

Heritage Academy freshman Angela Taylor said she was hoping to be able to shop for souvenirs in between the historical demonstrations and re-enactor skits.

Angela, 15, said she was finding the demonstrations and skits interesting.

"I just wouldn't want to eat it," said Taylor, after a glimpse into a pot of boiling beef during the U.S. Sanitary Commission's cooking demonstration.

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