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Students go back to 1860s to experience Civil War era
Civil War pic2
Dutcher Middle School students watch a Civil War reenactment — complete with galloping horses and canon fire — during a recent field trip to Mariposa. - photo by Photo Contributed

It wasn't a typical Friday for eighth grade students at Dutcher Middle School. Instead of silent reading, recess breaks and quizzes, about 300 students got to go back in time over 100 years ago to experience what life was like during the Civil War.

“We got to learn how the people thought and how they said things,” said Caitlin Cox, eighth grade student at Dutcher Middle. “It was cool to see what people wore and what they did.”

For the first time, Dutcher Middle School took 11 classes filled with 8th grade students to the Las Mariposas Civil War Days for an educational field trip on April 16.

Students just finished learning about the Civil War so it was perfect timing, said Amy Olguin, teacher at Dutcher Middle.

Most students felt the hands-on experience at the Civil War Days was a great way to sum up the topic and it provided a better learning experience for them.

“I heard one student saying 'I've learned more today than I have learned in the book,'” Olguin said. “It made it real for them. It came alive.”

Cox felt like her time travel experience was one that helped her better understand the Civil War.

“Teachers can only teach us so much,” she said. “People there can teach us more about what people did back then because they know about that stuff.”

The field trip also allowed the students to experience marching like a soldier in the Confederate Army and shooting battle canons.

“It helped me realize that their surgical equipment was not sanitary back then,” said Matthew Perez, Dutcher student. “People died from diseases. I didn't even realize how dirty it was.”

There were over 10 stations ranging from historical figures to civilians to artillery, where the students could learn about the life-style of those who fought in the Civil War. Students also witnessed a reenactment of a Civil War battle while they ate lunch.

“I got to shoot the canon,” Cox said. “I was scared at first, but after it was easier.”

Eighth grader Austin Bush found the canon shooting to be his favorite part of the entire day.

“I am into canons and the war,” Bush said. “I really liked the reenactment of the war.”

Due to all the positive feedback from students, Dutcher Middle School plans to take students on the hands-on field trip next year.

The education day at the Las Mariposas Civil War Days was free of charge, but students did fundraising to pay for transportation to Mariposa.

“It was a better education because it is more hands-on feel and I felt like I was actually there,” Perez said. “It was easier to learn.”

To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.