Students in the middle school gifted program (SIGMA) at Remington Traditional School spent time his year learning more about the school district they attend. Under the direction of their teacher, Tracey Robinson, the students researched the origins of the Pattonville School District, along with every public school in the area since it was first populated in the 1800s. Robinson then took their information and populated a website with their research to share with the community.
“Pattonville has a rich history, very diverse,” said Robinson. “This is not a school system that opened up over night. It evolved over a couple of hundred years. I feel it is important for students to know and understand the history of the community in which they reside.”
Students took several approaches for their research. Robinson helped them gather a variety of historical resources from school librarians, along with current and former students and staff. They perused the Pattonville history book, a Bridgeton history book, a booklet on the charter of St. Ann and a recently published book on the history of Maryland Heights. Robinson also reached out to current and former students and staff via email and Facebook, enlisting them to serve as primary, first-person resources for her students.
Robinson’s students wrote letters to those sources, asking questions about school life. The letters were sent via email or through Facebook messaging by Robinson, who then printed out the responses. Students used those interviews and the other research to craft descriptive paragraphs about the school they chose to research. The class also obtained historical photos from a variety of sources and used those on the individual school pages.
Robinson said many responded to her call for help.
“The response was incredible,” Robinson said. “The personal interviews allowed the students to find information not printed in books. The responses brought these schools to life, especially the ones that are closed.”
She said the students’ discoveries led to many questions, such as “Was it safe to put all of those kids on the back of a rickety pick-up truck to take them to a school picnic?” after they saw a picture from decades ago in the Bridgeton history book. They were also surprised to learn that so many schools had closed, and that certain buildings that they see around the area, such as Christian Academy, Vantage Credit Union, Grace Academy Elementary, the Pattonville Print Shop and the Pattonville Learning Center, all have connections to buildings in Pattonville’s history.
As for the most interesting find?
“We discovered that there was an African-American school, Carver Elementary, in the Maryland Heights school district,” Robinson said. “I found a picture of it when attending the (funeral) visitation of Mrs. (Wilma) Dolan, a retiree of the Pattonville School District. In one of the scrapbooks Mrs. Dolan had made about her extensive teaching career, she had a school program from 1959, and it had a picture of Remington and Carver Elementary schools. I used those pictures to make the banner for the Carver school page.”
To view the website created by the class, visit the Pattonville website at www.psdr3.org and look under “Seasonal Links” in the right-hand menu.