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History alive and well in area

How soon we forget.

Today’s society is one that lives in and for the moment. Thanks to technology, we can communicate with anyone anywhere and do it instantly.

We literally have the world at our fingertips, but we fear that the rapid pace of modern life carries inherent dangers. Could we soon be moving so quickly that we risk losing sight of our past?

Two recent events provide reassurance that area educators are working to address that concern, and we believe both efforts are worth noting.

“I think because of the Internet and textbooks, instant notifications — I think we lose touch with how hard it used to be and where we came from,” said Kevin Pitman, a U.S. history teacher and coach at Ponder High School, explaining why he brought the idea of holding a Living History Day to the campus.

During Friday’s event, students learned about dutch-oven cooking, the work of a 19th century farm wife, Buffalo Soldiers, mountain men, cattle rides and how ancestors may have hunted and gathered their food.

There were re-enactments of characters from the 1880s and other time periods in history, with special displays on spooling wool, Civil War weapons, equipment and clothing, and a World War II vehicle from 1941 that was used in North Africa and Italy.

Pitman said he hopes the special event will help students see that history is neither dead nor boring but important. One day, he told us, he hopes to create an event that other school districts can come and participate in as well.

We like that idea and believe that other area schools may want consider adding a similar event to their curriculums because of its impact on students. As Ponder High School Principal Shawn Simmons said, Living History Day goes beyond what students would read in a textbook or see in a video.

“Learning comes from experiences, and activities like this brings it to life for the kids,” Simmons said. “I think it’s something they’ll remember.”

Another similar event designed to catch the imagination of students targeted an even younger audience — about 30 preschoolers from Children’s Day Out at First United Methodist Church of Denton who traveled to the Texas Woman’s University Student Union recently for “History Field Day.”

Youngsters got to play historical dress-up, participate in makeshift archeological digs and were offered arts and crafts and story time.

The program — hosted by the TWU chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honor society — aims to get children interested in history at an early age through interactive learning, Aiesha McFadden, president of the chapter, told us.

The program began last spring, said Jacob Blosser, a history professor and the group’s adviser. The group had the idea for the program, which Blosser said benefits both the preschoolers and TWU students.

“It’s a way for young children to experience history in a fun way, and it’s also an opportunity for my students to develop skills related to public history and presentation,” he said.

We commend those involved in these and other programs. By helping students experience the past in such an exciting and personal way, they are nurturing a lifelong interest in history and a greater appreciation for those who came before us.

Such lessons are well worth learning.