On Monday, June 1st the Friends of the Public Garden hosted the sixth annual Making History on the Common. Roughly 700 local elementary and middle school students and their teachers traveled to the Boston Common to learn about the history of Boston and participate in fun and educational activities presented by numerous nonprofit and city partners including Historic New England, the Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library, the Freedom Trail Foundation, and Boston’s City Archaeologist.
“It is inspiring to experience the enthusiasm students express as they become fully engaged in interactive history lessons on Boston Common, one of our country’s most historic sites,” said Elizabeth Vizza, Executive Director of the Friends of the Public Garden.
The cold rain on the day of the event could not dampen the students’ eagerness to learn about the city’s history and engage in the various activities that each organization had to offer. Full from the apples donated by Whole Foods Market and wrapped in rain ponchos, the students visited over a dozen stations, each portraying a different aspect of historic life in Boston. At 20th Century Protests, students learned about use of the Boston Common for protests throughout the decades, and wrote on a large protest sign about what they would protest in their own lives. The group from the 54th Massachusetts Regiment told stories about the first all-black regiment in the Civil War, memorialized in the Shaw/54th Regiment Memorial across from the State House on the Common. The Commonwealth Vintage Dancers’ tent gave students a chance to learn some of the dances and play games that were popular in the 1800’s. The students played in the rain with sticks and hoops provided by Historic New England, having as much fun now as children did centuries ago. One of the most eye-catching tents was that of the Ancient Fishweir Project and Wampanoag Nation Singers and Dancers. Students learned about the use of fishweir, a replica of which was set up where the bay would have reached in the early 1600’s, as a way to catch fish along the shoreline. The students then learned a chant and danced around, just as the Wampanoag had done thousands of years prior.
“Teachers and students alike tell us that this is their favorite field trip of the year,” said Vizza. “We are so appreciative of the many non-profit and public partners who join us to make this event possible. We are also grateful for the financial support we have received from lead sponsor Motor Mart Garage and through a grant from MassHumanities.”
At the end of the event, the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company began its annual “June Day” ceremony on the Common. Classes that stayed after Making History watched the group discharge cannons and march through the Common in its annual festive re-enactment of their drum-head ceremony.