Porum GEAR UP Students Tour Fort Smith Museum of History

Forty tenth and eleventh-grade Porum GEAR UP students recently toured the Fort Smith Museum of History. Upon entry into the museum, students were greeted by museum staff and volunteers who presented a timeline that walked through the city’s history. Founded as a military fort in 1817, Fort Smith became a fur-trading center before turning into a full-fledged city.   Museum staff led the students through the museum’s first floor, where volunteers provided reenactments at the different exhibits to enhance the students learning experience. The first floor includes the William O. Darby Memorial room that tells the story of founder Darby’s Rangers in World War II, today’s Army Rangers. William Orlando Darby was born in Fort Smith in 1910, graduated from Fort Smith High School, and attended West Point. The Boyd Gallery offered the Fort Smith Antique Automobile Club Exhibition “60 Years on the Road,” with vintage automobiles, antique auto memorabilia, machinery, parts, collectible items, and students were able to sound the vintage air horn. Mrs. Martha Jane Walker’s classroom was another one of the exhibits, and it allowed students to learn about what education was like in the 1800’s.   Students then explored the museum’s second floor, which included a collection of 19th-century woodworking tools, African American history in Fort Smith, On the Air, an interactive display depicting the region’s broadcast history, and furnishings from the court of Judge Isaac C. Parker. Volunteers at the Hanging Judge Parker exhibit played the roles of Judge Parker and his wife to depict the life of Judge Parker and his wife in a fun and interactive way with the students. The students enjoyed all aspects of the museum, from learning about the history of Fort Smith to viewing all of the artifacts, and reported their favorite part were the volunteers who made the learning experience interactive and fun for them.   The field trip was sponsored by Eastern Oklahoma State College’s GEAR UP program. Eastern received a $17 million federal GEAR UP grant in 2017, and will serve more than 3,000 students in 39 area schools for seven years.

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