VALDOSTA -- What was once Moulton-Branch Elementary School's gymnasium is now Jamestown, Va., America's first permanent English colony. The school's 120-plus fourth-graders comprise the town's residents, including the Powhatan Indians and the English colonists, complete with costumes and all the fixings.
Phyllis Childree, teacher, said the hands-on project is part of the students' lessons on early North America explorations. She said the study of Jamestown is a big part of the fourth-grade social studies curriculum.
The students' replicated Jamestown is very similar to the original settlement, Childress said. There's a Powhatan Indian village, a colonial farm, a school house, a tin shop, a colonial home, a tea room, a candle shop, a wig shop, a stockade, a quilting shop, a blacksmith, a market square, colonial children's games, post riders, and colonial singers.
After studying all aspects of Jamestown, Childress said the students selected these 15 exhibits for the project.
"We were really focused on depicting what life was like for the people back then," she added.
Monday, students and teachers from grades kindergarten through third and fifth toured their school's version of Jamestown. As they approached the wig shop, a lot of interesting historical facts were revealed to them by the shop's keepers.
Kayla Adams, 10, said most men and women in Jamestown wore wigs. She said they often shaved their heads to make the wigs fit better.
Justin Strickland, 10, said the wigs were made from horse, goat and human hair.
"White-haired wigs were the most stylish and expensive," said Darrell Young, 10.
For those who could not afford such, Taelyn Gibbs, 9, said white powder was used to achieve the same effect.
In the market square, Cole Green, 10, displayed the items available for sale to those in the colony.
"We sell crops farmers have grown, candy, medicine, and other household necessities," he said.
In the school house, Staci Bass, 10, Jamestown's "good student," learned how to read and write using her "New England Primer" textbook.
"School back then was a lot different from school now," she said. "There was no principal. Students had the same teacher all the time. The desks were weird. And they had to write with feathers."
Katelyn Woods, 9, demonstrated the games children played in Jamestown. She said the girls preferred hopscotch and dolls. The boys played marbles, guns, and hoopster roll.
"They had a lot of things to play for fun," she said. "It's just a little different from today. There were no video games or TV."
Second-grader Cameron Brown, 8, loved the fact that folks in Jamestown rode horses as opposed to driving cars and trucks.
"I like it," he said.
Caitlin Joiner, 7, agrees.
"It's really cool," she said. "They are teaching us how life was back then. I did not know they used to make their own candles."
Joiner said the biggest difference between life in the 1600's and today is the lack of options.
The project was funded by a $500 grant from the Lowndes Education Improvement Foundation. Lowndes High School's construction classes built the different buildings needed for the replicated town. Costumes were made by parents and borrowed from the Theater Guild Valdosta.
Childress said she hopes to expand the project next year and make it an annual fourth-grade activity.
On Dec. 20, 1606, three merchant ships loaded with passengers and cargo embarked from England on a voyage that would later set the course of American history. The Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery reached Virginia in the spring of 1607, and on May 14 their 104 passengers began building on the banks of the James River.
To contact reporter Jessica Pope, please call 244-3400, ext. 255.