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GBS students learn about local mill through exhibit

  • Great Brook fifth grade students take a tour of The Monadnock Center for History and Culture on Grove Street in Peterborough. Their exhibit on the Monadnock Paper Mill will be displayed there beginning April 15.
  • Great Brook students take notes at the Peterborough Historical Society where their Kid Curator Project on the Monadnock Paper Mill will be featured starting April 15.
  • Great Brook School fifth graders take a tour of the Peterborough Historical Society, where their project on the Monadnock Paper Mill will be displayed in April.
  • Fifth grade students at Great Brook Middle School are working working on an exhibit detailing the history and engineering of the Monadnock Paper Mill.<br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Fifth grade students at Great Brook Middle School are working working on an exhibit detailing the history and engineering of the Monadnock Paper Mill.<br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Lucy Civitella, 10, of Hancock, left, and Izabella Ketchersid, 10, of Antrim work on a project related to water pressure in Kathleen Bigford's fifth grade class at Great Brook, in preparation for their class exhibit.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

ANTRIM — Fifth graders at Great Brook School are working on a project that allows them to be curators of their own exhibit, which will be displayed at the The Monadnock Center for History and Culture in Peterborough in April.

The entire fifth grade class is working in conjunction with the center and the Monadnock Paper Mills in Bennington to complete an exhibit chronicling the mill’s history and prominence in the Monadnock region.

The effort is all part of the center’s Kid Curator Project, which the center has done several times with different classes at Great Brook, in which students and teachers create a visual project for display.

Teachers at Great Brook were in favor of studying the paper mill after realizing they didn’t know much about the intricacies of the mill or its products.

“Much of what the paper mill makes, nobody has any idea about. It’s all fantastic,” fifth grade teacher Sylvia Shea said in an interview in her classroom back in February. “The Paper Mill is so valuable.”

Shea said that the fifth grade hasn’t done a Kid Curator project with the historical society in a few years, and she thought it would be a good idea to start the program back up again with this year’s class.

The project started a few weeks into February when teachers and the entire fifth grade met with Education Coordinator Carrie Whittemore at the Monadnock Center for History and Culture. Whittemore showed some prior exhibits to the students, and gave them a range of topics to focus their project on. They, with help from their teachers, decided on the paper mill.

Whittemore said in a phone interview in February that the project gives kids a great opportunity to do a project that others will be able to see, and it introduces them to research and topic al projects.

Each fifth grade class will be focusing on a specific aspect of the paper mill. For example, Shea’s class is studying the history of the mill.

“My students will go back and look at mills as older businesses,” Shea said.

She added that as 10 year olds, they can’t see all of the historical aspects of the mill. But there are lots of opportunities to learn the basics of business and history in the classroom.

Barbara Black’s students have been focusing on the career aspects of the mill since they returned from February break.

“My students will use the Internet quite a bit,” Black said in an interview in her classroom in February. “There are many jobs to research and learn about.”

Kathleen Bigford’s class is studying water power as a resource for energy, and Linda Bundy’s class is focusing on the environmental aspects of the mill.

The classes will focus on researching their topics before pooling information that Whittemore will take a look at, and eventually develop into a visual exhibit.

“I’ll go in to evaluate the research the kids do and make it fit for the exhibit,” Whittemore said. “It’s a pretty cool process.”

The final product is set to go on display on April 15, Whittemore said. That night all the students’ parents and family members will be invited for a private viewing before it opens to the public the next day.

“The exhibit will run for a while, at least into fall,” Whittemore said.

Fifth graders in Bigford’s class began experiments studying water pressure in the second week of March. Their first assignment was to poke holes up the side of an empty plastic container, then to cover those holes with a single piece of tape. The next day, they were instructed to fill the containers with water and remove the piece of tape, then observe. This was the first assignment Bigford’s class would do leading up to studying water wheels and how they generate power.

“We’ve learned about water and how it generates power at mills,” said Izabella Ketchersid, one of Bidford’s students. “It’s interesting to learn about the paper mill and the history of it.”

Liam Denehy, another student in Bigford’s class, said he wants to have a model water wheel in the final exhibit.

Lisa Berghaus is the paper mill’s manager of marketing and communications, and is coordinating the project from the paper mill’s end. She said in a phone interview in February that the mill is planning some presentations for the fifth grade students, and thinks they’ve put together a nice program that will benefit the students greatly.

The paper mill in Bennington has been operating for nearly 200 years, Berghaus said, and they take a lot of pride in the facility.

“I think there’s pride and appreciation for industry and understanding how important business is in the community,” Berghaus said. “We like to support the local schools however we can.”

Shea said the ultimate decision of what the display will look like is up to the kids.

“The kids can really see the possibilities,” Shea said.

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