Five second grade students at Bell Top Elementary School recently completed a research project with Library Media Specialist Felice Devine that uncovered the long and interesting history of their school.
The project began in October when the Town of North Greenbush installed a historical plaque in front of the school. The blue plaque with yellow border reads:
BELL TOP SCHOOL
ORIGINAL SCHOOL CONSTRUCTED
IN 1866. MOVED ACROSS ROAD
WHEN CURRENT SCHOOL BUILT
IN 1940. BELL FROM PREVIOUS
SITE PLACED IN FRONT LAWN.
The student researchers included Luc Leblond, Lemon Lombardo, Alaina Lyons, Tyler Monuteaux and Willa Pipas. They spent one day a week for the past few months working with Mrs. Devine as part of enrichment library to learn more about the school’s history.
They read through primary source documents such as newspaper articles, they used district databases such as World Book and CultureGrams and they interviewed the town historian Jim Greenfield.
Through their research the students learned that Bell Top began as a one-room schoolhouse, was moved to its current location nearly 75 years later, and then had two different expansions built in the 20th century.
“This group of students took their research topic and ran with it,” said Mrs. Devine. “They developed questions that drove their inquiry and took their time reading old newspaper articles and searching through our databases to find the answers. They also really enjoyed interviewing our town historian, Jim Greenfield, to learn even more about the school’s history.”
The students and Mrs. Devine created a Google Slides presentation based on their research and plan to share it with the rest of the school on BTTV, the school’s morning show.
The presentation includes a timeline of Bell Top construction along with key dates in history.
For example, when the original one-room schoolhouse was built in 1866, Andrew Johnson was president and the first Memorial Day was observed in the United States. When Bell Top was moved to its current location in 1940 and underwent its first expansion, the first Captain America comic book was published. And in 1965 when the eastern wing was added to Bell Top, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law, banning racial discriminatory practices in voting.
“The dedication of the second graders to work week after week to learn about Bell Top’s history really impressed me,” said Principal Martin Mahar. “But what I found even more heart-warming was the enthusiasm they showed when they would share their work with me.”