Pennies Project to help Kent Historical Society
Kent City Schools buildings collecting change to help society buy new musuem
Students are collecting change at all of the Kent City Schools buildings to help the Kent Historical Society pay for its new home, the Clapp-Woodward house on East Main Street.
Becky Dunlap's third-grade class at Longcoy Elementary is spearheading the project for collecting change to help the Kent Historical Society pay off the mortgage on its newly purchased residence.
A member of the society's board, Dunlap said that she immediately tried to relate the new historical society museum and how it would affect Kent’s students when she learned of the purchase.
“This would be a good chance for them to help with a project outside of themselves, but still in our local community,” she said. “So we came up with the idea of doing the coins and collecting them at the schools.”
Each school in Kent will help collect change and whatever amount of money the students manage to raise will be matched by an anonymous donor.
Already off to a good start at Longcoy Elementary School, where Dunlap teaches, the principal, Janis Swan, deposited a dime into the “bank,” increasing the sum within it to $72.55 recently.
“Each school has a bank,” Swan said.
She believes that whatever the students give is a testimonial to the fact that they value the city of Kent and its history.
“I really appreciate Mrs. Dunlap being able to spearhead such a big project. She’s a very passionate teacher,” Swan said.
Third grade is when students across the district learn about communities, and this year the whole focus is on learning about Kent. As a result, they will be able to relate the historical society project and the artifacts within the museum to what they are learning in class. Third grade also is when students take a trip to the museum and learn about Kent's history.
At the old KHS house on South Water Street, the children would have to split up into groups to see exhibits such as a model of Kent complete with a working train or an old classroom with desks, a chalk board and even a dunce cap.
Now, in addition to learning about history by viewing artifacts, the students will also be able to explore a historical house.
The Clapp-Woodward house at 237 E. Main St., which is where KHS will establish its permanent home, was built in 1883 for Marvin Kent’s sister. And as the result of only having four owners over the years, remains largely original.
Still in the South Water house, amid floor-to-ceiling boxes full of artifacts that will soon have space to be displayed, KHS President Sandra Halem explained that it was time for the society to have a permanent home.
"We had outgrown this place," Halem said, walking down the cluttered, upstairs hallway.
With the mission of "preservation and education," the historical society will be able to do both of those things much more efficiently at its new residence. And it will also be able to become handicap accessible — something that was not possible at the old building.
"Generally, a class will come for about an hour," Halem said. "During that period of time, we take them downstairs (and) give them a little general history. The things that they’re most interested in are the artifacts that talk to them. We try as often as possible to involve rather than just show."
For instance, when the children come downstairs, Halem will have the player piano going. With her hands in the air she will excitedly ask the students who is playing it, engaging them in the tour.
Halem thinks that if students learn about Kent and its unique history they will want to become more involved in taking care of their community.
"If we do our job well, the kid grows up feeling good, the kid brings his parents here, the parents become involved in the historical society, the kids grow up and if they stay here, they stay involved in history and it all works to give us a future," Halem said.
Back at Longcoy elementary, Dunlap's students make posters, which they will place around the building, asking people to help them collect their change.