Hundreds attend Civil War walk-through in Arlington

Starmont students organize community event

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March 28, 2014 | 3:06 pm

ARLINGTON – Around 400 people from several area schools attended a Civil War walk-through hosted by Starmont High School’s communication class on the football practice field Wednesday.

Communications instructor, Sheryl Nelson, said this is the first year the course has been offered at Starmont, and the idea for a Civil War walk-through came from one of her four students in the class. “Kassi Crossman, it was a hobby she picked up over the summer,” Nelson said of the soon-to-be senior. “She became fascinated with it.”

Dressed in an all-wool uniform from head-to-toe, Crossman wasn’t responding to her usual Kassi, she was answering to Private Brokaw. One of the most interesting things about the Civil War to Crossman was the idea that women would oftentimes dress as men and join the fight. “They could get discovered if they put on their pants funny, or put on their socks too nicely,” Crossman said as she knocked on her wooden boots. “There was probably around 400-1000 women that fought in the Civil War that passed as men.”

Crossman was one of four students who put together the event, along with junior Nick Allsop and seniors Colton Janssen and Ty Brown. Nelson said she was proud of her students for putting together the event in less than two months. Crossman urged the incoming communication students to begin work early on the class project, because “it’s not going to be easy.”

The group, including Crossman, said they have learned a lot about the Civil War over the past academic year. Allsop said he was most shocked at the medical technology, especially the fairly non-existent sanitation techniques during the Civil War, mentioning procedures like amputations that could produce “not so pretty results."

The Civil War went from a topic no one in the Communications class showed interest in, to an era they have gained significant knowledge about, and for one, adopted as a hobby.

"I thought it [walk-throughs/reenactments] was the stupidest thing in the world," Crossman said with a laugh. "Why would anyone do that?" However, it wasn't before long friends who participated in Civil War reenactments transformed her from by-stander, to reenactor.

"At the end of the day, we're basically a big family," Crossman said with a smile.

Jackie Fedeler and her 9-year-old daughter Jerilyn visited various stations Wednesday, spending extra time at the children's games area. “I love the fact kids get to experience this, and get a good sense of history,” Jackie said. She added it was a great opportunity for the fairly rural area because oftentimes events like this take place in bigger towns or cities.

Jackie was shocked when she discovered four students put together the walk-through.“It’s great that they [students] go out and learn something new and bring it back to the school for others to learn about,” Jackie said. She believes it’s important for kids to experience educational and interactive events, and take field trips, because they can discover new hobby’s or interests.

“It’s amazing these people [reenactors] come out here and share their passion, reach out to the kids, and it just keeps growing and growing,” Jackie added.

Jenny Raby, a reenactor of over 11 years, said she became interested because of her love of history -- a common theme among many reenactors.

Raby played violin and led demonstrations on children’s games for most of the day, adding attendees were fairly engaged and asked several questions. “I even had the same group of boys, maybe 10 to 12-years-old, come back three times to play the games,” Raby said with a smile. “I was really surprised that even with all the technology available, they want to play and don’t want to leave when it’s time to change stations.”

But at the end of the day, some may drop the sticks and hoops and pick up the closest box with a screen.

“I could never live in that time period,” Senior Colton Janssen said with a laugh. “What would I do without my cellphone?”

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