Founder’s Day returns
Storytelling and tours of the Vinland area were the highlights of a fun-filled day for area first graders last week.
Vinland Elementary School and Marion Springs Elementary School first graders celebrated Columbus Day last Thursday by having their own Founder's Day at VES.
"It was really fun," VES first grader Kyle Norris said. "We got to drive around and see fun stuff."
To begin the day, the students listened to VES librarian Rita Tutschulte tell a story about days long ago. After lunch and recess, they came back inside for story time with Danny and Becky McMillen.
"Danny's father went to Vinland, so he could tie in a lot of realistic stories," VES first-grade teacher Loretta Verhaeghe said. "Then they knew Becky from the Baldwin Public Library. It's nice to have two good local people."
B. McMillen told two stories with a couple of puppets. One story was a Native American tale about being greedy, while the other was based on a story about a grandmother and a handful of animals.
"If they're enjoying the stories, then they're going to learn from them," B. McMillen said. "That's what the teachers like, also."
D. McMillen shared several stories about Vinland's past.
"His stories were mostly true, because his dad grew up near Stony Point," B. McMillen said. "He just loves to tell those stories."
His wife said the kids loved his stories, partly because he takes real events and embellishes them a bit to make them better for storytelling. He also used several animal noises during his stories.
"He loves to do that," B. McMillen said. "He likes to make the different sounds. He has perfected them on his grand kids."
Later in the afternoon, the students and teachers loaded up a bus and toured Vinland sites. Those stops included Coal Creek Library, Stony Point Church and Signal Oak.
"We went to Coal Creek Library," VES first grader Olivia Flory said. "That was my favorite place."
While at Signal Oak, the first graders learned about the historic landmark and enjoyed a snack.
"They liked different parts," Verhaeghe said. "The Coal Creek Library was a popular one. We had the miniature Vinland and they liked that. They also liked the snacks and getting to know the Marion Springs first graders."
Verhaeghe invited her husband, Mel Verhaeghe, on the tour because he is familiar with Vinland history.
"He knows a lot about the Vinland History," L. Verhaeghe said of her husband. "He could help tie in some more of the facts that the kids needed to know."
Verhaeghe said VES used to celebrate Founder's Day until a few years ago, so she thought she would bring it back with her class.
"We used to do a whole school's Founder's Day for five years, but we stopped three years ago," L. Verhaeghe said. "We wanted to have the first graders enjoy the Founder's Day."
Since the MSES first graders came to VES for this day, the Vinland students will travel to Marion Springs in the spring for a field trip. That is part of the reason they had the field trip in the fall.
"We used to do it in May," L. Verhaeghe said of Founder's Day. "This year we decided to do it in the fall, because of Columbus Day and because we go out there in the spring."
Verhaeghe hopes to make Founder's Day a tradition at VES once again.
"We will try to do it again next year, hopefully," L. Verhaeghe said.
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