Do any of these kids appear worn out to you? I did all I could to get them tired before the bus ride home (It didn't work.).
We paused on the front porch of the governor's mansion for a group picture before going inside for our tour. This house has been in continual use as the governor's residence for longer than almost all others.
Landscaping, as is evident from the pictures, is already in bloom, and the smell in the area is amazing.
The fountain in front is the children's fountain, and features a girl on the top. This was the daughter of one of our governors, and she died while he was in office. One of the figures below is a little boy who was discovered living in the governor's stable. Governor Herbert S. Hadley assisted the little boy.
A friend of mine, Ross Malone, has written a book, fictionalizing the story of this boy. He imagines the history that this boy might have contacted during and after his stay there. His book, entitled Tobias and the Governor, is part of a series of books based on young people in Missouri history.
The next pictures posted will be from the inside of this haunting structure.
Between the capitol and the Governor's Mansion is a beautiful area honoring the Corps of Discovery. This landscaped area was completed as a part of the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition which crossed our state headed to unknown lands west. As we have studied this period, students were excited to meet Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, along with Clark's slave, York, and Lewis's dog, Seaman.
Just up the street we walked amongst antebellum structures built in the 1800s, prior to the Civil War. What a cool walk in the spring! It was a good PE time for the day - strenuous and relaxing at the same time.
To be clear, our trip to Springfield, last week, is in no way an endorsement of MSU. Instead, it should be viewed as a further introduction to the college environment. Last year, as third graders, our students crossed the state line to visit Pittsburg State University in Kansas. This year, they saw a larger campus.
An an educator, I know it is important to look forward to opportunities and requirements for the future. To get students to start thinking about college is a valuable thing. However, I wish MSU would give us a more substantial tour. We would like to see classrooms, dorm rooms, and more - not simply tour the recreational and sports facilities. The student ambassadors do a fine job of maintaining focus along their tours, but the tour outline needs to be beefed up to encourage fourth graders to think about scholarships and credits, rather than just telling them that "College is fun!"
Missouri's history is so vast. Not only does it touch the borders of our great state, but it extends beyond. Whether it be Lewis and Clark floating up the Missouri River and into the western lands, Daniel Boone blazing trails through Kentucky, or the the national Civil War being fought right here on our soil, Missouri history is truly American history.
In addition, Missouri's people affect much more than our state alone. Great entertainers like Ginger Rogers, Walt Disney, and Emmett Kelly called Missouri their home. Literary figures like Laura Ingalls Wilder and Mark Twain lived here. Then there are numerous politicians, explorers, pioneers, and entrepreneurs who built what we call Missouri today. In one area of the capitol, these many of these people are honored with busts, including the one of Emmett Kelly, the sad clown. This one, when photographed with a flash, shows him with makeup, while with the naked eye, the makeup is not visible.
In other areas, Missouri's rich history is displayed. Civil War flags, surgical kits, and weapons, a robe from the Ku Klux Klan, Indian tools, mining equipment, pieces of riverboats, etc., are all here in either the history or the resources sections of the museum on the main floor. Separating the two sections is a large central area embellished by the bronzed state seal in the floor, and above the seal is the massive 4,500-pound chandelier.
Lest we leave out more recent history, the U.S.S. Missouri, now dry-docked in Pearl Harbor, is modeled in 500 pounds of metalwork at the eastern entrance. This is the ship (the real one, not the model) where the Japanese signed their surrender during World War II. The bell of the ship also there, along with a huge punch bowl which resides in the nearby Governor's Mansion.
As stated on the plaque outside the House Lounge in the state Capitol, the Thomas Hart Benton Murals depict "a social history of the state of Missouri". The artist featured on the walls of this magnificent room was a Southwest Missouri boy and has art in the City Council building on Main Street in Joplin, as well.
Benton's finished work was met with some criticism at first, with some politicians vowing to have it painted over since it depicted some of the uglier scenes in our state. Such include slavery, a bare-bottomed baby being cleaned, Jesse James robbing a train, a barroom brawl in Kansas City, drunkards, graphic butcher scenes, and more. But that's all a part of history. History is a constant struggle between good and evil, and remembering it helps us continue down the path of good. Do we wish our state prosperous? Then we had better understand what makes us poor. Do we wish our state peace? Then we need to understand the things that bring war.
Of course it's not all ugly. In fact, even with those scenes, these paintings have a crisp and colorful style about them that draws the eye. They seem to say, "Come this way," and "Look over here." The discerning eye will find humor on those walls, as well as the sentiment of yearning for progress. It is profoundly interesting to find a baptism in the background of a panel with a slave being whipped, or dancing girls and bar fights in the same painting as hardworking farmers, or even covered wagons on one side of the room contrasting the industrial revolution on the opposite.
Can you say, imposing. The regal setting of our Missouri House and Senate chambers is enough to keep a person looking, admiring, and wondering, but when the two chambers are in session, there is some kind of fourth dimension at work. Not only are these two locations feasts for the eyes, with fancy furniture, polished woodwork and brass, stained glass, and valuable, historical artwork, but the ears are treated to a host of murmurings along the walls, as well as much legal rhetoric and language spoken over portable microphones on the floor level.
In the Senate, our elected officials were moving through some housekeeping items during our visit. Senator Ron Richard, who also arranged an area for us to eat lunch, announced our Cecil Floyd group. In the balcony (gallery), we stood, and the entire Senate acknowledged us with their applause.
Over in the House, the gallery was quite full. We arrived just in time to hear the last remarks about a bill being proposed in support of saying the Pledge of Allegiance in Missouri public schools. One Republican wondered why we had to even debate the issue. "There's nothing wrong with being patriotic," he said. "And as for religious liberties in regards to the phrase 'under God', this bill does not require anyone to say it [or any other part of the pledge]." We never heard any rebuttal, as it was then time for our elected representatives to vote on the measure. Afterward, our group was again introduced and acknowledged by applause.
It's everywhere - even on fire extinguishers and doorknobs. The Great Seal of the State of Missouri surrounds the capitol visitor, but that's not the only thing a visitor will notice. The place is simply ornate with the symbolism of our state and national history. From giant paintings adorning many of the walls to detailed statuary in the echoing halls, the capitol screams history, science, and art. It appeals to the visitor because of its size and design, from a dome visible over your head to the limestone walls to the numerous arches that support the structure, the design of the building is worthy of respect.
Are you ready for another out-of-town trip? Our fourth graders are traveling to Springfield, this Wednesday, for our College Bound visit to Missouri State University's beautiful campus.
With storms brewing across the Kansas border, there was also concern that we were not meeting our scheduled arrival time (The refueling stop put us well overtime.). Some were worried that the storm would take a traditional track - and it did - but we were able to unload buses and get the kids off with parents before anything hit our area. It turns out the cells weren't very organized, and they passed us without producing anything in our immediate area.
I'll make more postings about our Jefferson Trip excursion in the coming days; stay tuned!
The kids take the reins. Students in Room 404 know that the teacher doesn't think for his students. Instead, students are often given the material to wrestle with on their own, in pairs, or in teams. In preparation for Thursday's trip to the state capitol, we are discussing the state government, including the roles and responsibilities of people in authority, as well as the functions of the three branches of government, and the concept of checks and balances. It's not easy (as is evident from the dozens of politicians who don't seem to know the history of the very government in which they serve).
One of the photos also display by our assistant principal, Mrs. McCombs. She sat with a pair of boys to watch them work, reading together and then highlighting to reach their intended learning.
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