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Fourth Graders Meet History Face-to-Face

Using images of long-ago days in Batavia as a starting point, Karissa Santy’s fourth grade enrichment classes began researching the history of our city and town and will, in the end, create a calendar featuring Batavia history.

The initial pictures, as expected, sharpened the students’ curiosity about how things used to be as compared to how they are now. To help satiate that, Mrs. Santy invited some area experts in to talk with students – people who had witnessed first-hand how things used to be!

Nine long-time residents were able to come to John Kennedy for what Mrs. Santy named, “Fireside Chats,” complete with decorative cardboard fireplaces that the students had made. Guests, many of whom were related to students or staff at John Kennedy, included (in alphabetical order) City Historian Larry Barnes; Bethany Burgess, from the NYS School of the Blind; Rose Cacamise, owner of Roxy’s Music Store; Joyce Covert, who is Mrs. Santy’s grandmother; Benny Martino, who owned Benny’s Barber Shop and is the grandfather of a fourth grader; City Council member Patty Pacino; Elizabeth Rose, who is JK teacher Alyssa Tretter’s grandmother; Linda Toal, who is Mrs. Santy’s aunt; and Susan Tretter, who is Ms. Tretter’s mother.

The guests had been shown the pictures that aroused the students’ curiosity, which made a good starting point for conversations. A starting point was all that was needed, however! The students loved hearing about the similarities and differences between then and now, and the older residents loved sharing the stories, many of which sparked other memories among the other guests. Students had a rare opportunity to ask questions as quickly as they thought of them about any topic that came to mind – from whether or not the French fries at a local hotspot were as salty as they are today, to what kinds of pets people had.

Among Mrs. Santy’s favorite moments, one stood out for its distinctiveness. In the midst of discussing the past, Rose Cacamise and Patty Pacino asked the students about the future – what they thought they might do to change Batavia. Whatever it is, perhaps they will one day be back at JK as a guest for another Fireside Chat.

See more pictures on the District's Facebook page!