Colonial Day has been an annual tradition for years for fifth-graders at Helen M. Knight Elementary School, when students learn about America’s colonial history, complete with the opportunity to “live” in the era by dressing up in period costumes.
This year, though, the history lesson "came to life" for students with a visit from the Colonial Heritage Foundation, an organization “dedicated to the preservation of the values, culture, skills and history of America’s founding,” according to its website, which accomplishes that mission by presenting reenactments of the Colonial period.
Comments such as, “This is awesome,” and “That was so cool,” could be heard from students as they viewed characters such as a colonial fur trader and a British army major garrisoned in the New World.
The foundation’s actors portrayed actual historical people: The fur trader was Thomas Cresap, portrayed by his tenth-great grandson Cap Cresap; the army major portrayed by Jack Pauly was the actual Sir John Redmayne.
Students were as enthralled and engaging as the performers were passionate about history and the purpose of teaching it.
Other vignettes included an apothecary (old-time pharmacist), a cooper (barrel-maker), a chandler (candle- or soap-maker), a printing-press operator and a pair of Pilgrim women from the Mayflower. All of them, in character, taught and told stories of America’s earliest days.
The foundation often presents in classrooms along the Wasatch Front.
“This is the farthest they’ve ever travelled,” said HMK fifth-grade teacher Jamie Carter. “They are amazing.”
They are also all volunteers.
“We would love them to come back if they will,” Carter said.