Students at Silver Spruce Academy studied the Oregon Trail for seven weeks this autumn, culminating with a "departure" on the trail on Friday, Dec. 11. Some of the students dressed in pioneer-style clothing at the event, which took place at Pine River Valley Church. Amanda Williamson, who taught the unit, grouped the students into families and told them of the hardships they would face on a wagon trail in the late 1800s. Horses, wagons and handcarts were used for students to walk around the grounds of the church.
About 15 students couldn't make the event because of illness or other commitments, and that was comparable to the number of people who survived the arduous journey. About one third of those making the trip died along the way.
After learning about horses and and pulling the handcarts, the students and their families had a potluck featuring "trail food," such as venison, stew, hardtack, potatoes, bison, coffee and dried foods. The students also churned their own butter to go on the biscuits and said their arms were awfully sore, said Natalie Howard, the academy's director.
The students loved the "hands-on" learning and trying to figure out what items were needed for the trip and what had to be left behind, Howard explained.
The academy provides educational enrichment programs for homeschool students from throughout the Four Corners.