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Middle schoolers see through Irish eyes

March 18, 2002|BY RICHARD F. BELISLE

Greencastle-Antrim Middle School sixth-graders Chris Platt and Jeff Humley said they didn't believe in ghosts until they researched some haunted castles in Ireland.

Kyle Stoey, their partner in the research project, still isn't convinced that ghosts exist.

"I believe in them a little, not a lot," he said.

Seth Pfannebecker and Mark McCray chose leprechauns for their research project. They learned that leprechauns are a myth.

The sixth-grade class was taking part in Sister City Celebration Day in events at the school and at the Lillian S. Besore Memorial Library in Greencastle.

The school's main hallway, cafeteria and library were jammed with tables displaying the students' research projects, all with some connection to the Emerald Isle.

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Irish dancers clogged on the cafeteria stage.

Greencastle was named after a fishing village in Northern Ireland, said Sandra Kendall, the middle school librarian.

The students used a computer program developed by Drexel University in Philadelphia. Greencastle-Antrim Middle School was one of 12 public schools in Pennsylvania that signed up for the program, along with a dozen local libraries in the state. Kendall said she went through a special training program in Hershey, Pa., last summer.

The students were able to log onto and chose from more than two dozen Irish-related topics to research. Among them were music, food, castles, churches, culture, fairies, leprechauns, famous people, historic events, hornpipes, Irish lace, maps, ghosts, golfing, fishing, history, myths, Waterford crystal, the monetary system and Irish emigrants who sailed on the Titanic.

Sarah Louzon, Kayla Nunemaker and Michelle Crawford compared Irish and American breakfasts in their research. They learned that soda bread is an Irish breakfast staple, much as sausage is in America.

"Soda bread costs about $4 in Ireland. We bought ours here for $2.30," Nunemaker said.

A few tables away, Dustin Walker and Derek Graham were handing out silver dollar-size Irish pancakes. They made the pancakes and brewed the black Irish tea they passed out to anyone who came by.

"The pancakes were kind of easy to make," Walker said. "I learned that the Irish are big fans of tea," Graham said.

Kaila Duty and Diana Stottlemyer were serving the kinds of snacks the Irish emigrants would have eaten on their ill-fated voyage to America in 1912 - celery, cookies and cheese.

The girls said their research taught them the Irish would have traveled steerage class aboard the doomed ship.

"We learned that people in third class on the Titanic were treated like those in first class on other boats," Stottlemyer said.

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