Sanford Grammar School - Home of the Student Museum

Sanford Grammar School - Home of the Student Museum
Sanford Grammar School - Home of the Student Museum

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Step Back into Time

Continueing on in our journey through the Sanford Grammar School's interior, the time and effort put into the renovations are abundant.  As you walk through the double front doors into the foyer of the main building, you first notice that the wood floors have been completley refurbished.  Their deep dark stain and shining topcoat is beautiful!  These floors are the orginal floors making them 108 yrs old.  There are staircases on both sides to take the students to the second floor.  The foyer now is the place of welcome with a wealth of of information regarding Sanford's agricultural  and celery farming past.  At the end of the short hallway they show tribute to all of the Seminole Public Schools Superintendants from 1913 through the present time, their photos line the wall.  You will also find a photo of the first graduating class of Sanford High School -- 4 girls in 1907.  All vistors are requested to sign in at the welcome area as they come through the door to do a tour of the old school building.

This main building houses the offices of the curators and 5 rooms with interactive curriculum for the visting 4th grade students studying Florida History.  Each room is dedicated and decorated in theme to a certain period of time or activity.  The first room, known as the Native American Room, has an incredible full size mural that wraps entirely  around the room the depicts the lives of Native Florida Indians known as the Timakwa Indians.  Within this room children are encouraged to interact with the tools and even a full size dug out canoe.  The Palm frond huts are super and give a realistic view of the way the Indians had lived.  Thanks to Helen Hicky, a local Sanford resident, through her research and artistic talent she made the room come alive!

In the green and white Pioneer Room, you can't miss the 3/4 sized dove tail constructed cabin that has been built in the center of the classroom which children can go inside and see how families from the early settlers lived and slept.  Furs drape over the frame outside and a horse drawn wagon sits to the corner with tools of trades that would have been the pioneer's bread and butter.  During the children's tour, they are given picture cards and are asked to go about the room filled with antique and original items and find each one.  The walls are covered with artistic detail again to give the children the ability to grasp how the early settlers lived and traveled to survive.  I found one of the most interesting pieces within the room to be a new exhibit that is just opened this year.  It is an actual turpentine tree that was found by a resident on Rt. 46 on his property after living there for 20 yrs.  Apparently, the Overstreet Turpentine Company was a large operation back in the 1920s and this was how the collected their product.

Down the opposite hall you come to the all room known as their American Inquitiy Room that shows technology growth throughtout the years.  This room has not yet been used as part of the student's tour as of yet.  With many old items such as cameras, telephones, a large print press and typewriters, it gives the students a first hand view of how much technology has grown.  On the left wall of this red and white room there is a huge map and information regarding air travel.  The large train set up in the center on the wooden table allows kids to see what an actual steam engine and traveling train would look like.  I loved the scales lining the wall that will allow children to see how much they weigh on Earth, Jupiter, Mars and the Moon.  This room is going to be a hit!

The last classroom within the main building has been completely restored to show the design of an actual classroom from the early period.  It is absolutely beautiful with its wood floors and chalk boards lining the classroom walls.  The natural light from the large windows within these classroom are great and I would love for my children to have had the opprutunity to learn within these walls.  The students are able to sit at the antique desks and hear the history of education including a discussion on disipline within the schools.  What is amazing to me is that this room housed many, many children over the years as the school served public school children from 1902 to 1984!  What a wonderful place to learn.

On to the East Wing, added to the main building in 1916.  There a three rooms within this building that is currently being used for curriculum.  There is Grandma's Attic, a room literally filled with antiques and a brilliant decor.  This room has many different stations for the children to interact with the daily living from several different periods.  They can weave the cotten that is created at a table there on a big cotten loom, a old wash area with a hand cranked wash bin and a candle making station in the Daily Living Area.  The Kitchen area has a butter churn that they actually make butter and try it on hot rolls later in the day. You really step back in time within the walls of the Student Museum.

The Geography Room and the Florida Room are great places for the kids to learn about time zones and land use of our state.  They have clocks lining the walls with different times -- from Honalulu to London and Moscow to Sanford --actually 12 different clocks to show what time it would be somewhere else within the world.  The coolest thing in this room is the Geochron that shows the actual sun and where it is at any given point within the day or night.  This makes it easy for students to see what it means with a visual as to why our winter days are shorter and darker for a longer period of time.  The huge globe in the center of the Florida Room is an awesome visual aid and the fossil table gives the kids a chance to find thier own fossils within the sand.  Again, these rooms are completely interactive for the children and hands on, making learning so much fun.

The West wing is getting renovated and will be open soon!  Crooms High School has a room they have started this summer that will have exhibits into the history of black students education.  Crooms Hight school was the first school open to black students in 1921.  A storage room that holds thousands of archives and trunks is here that is available to teachers to use within their own classrooms and a small teachers office is located here.

All in all this tour was not what I expected when we were first asked to do this for a school assignment.  I throughly enjoyed every part of it from the architecture to the curriculum within its walls.  It is truly a place that needs to stay in Sanford forever!  Happy touring!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Wonderful Interactive Tool for Florida History students

I completed the tour of the Student Museum in Sanford and was thrilled to see that the city was able to find the funds to renovate such a wonderful tool for learning!  This building's architecture is beautifully mastered in it's Romanesque Revival style brick exterior and three story main school house which houses the orginal bell and tower. 

The main schoolhouse was built by Architect W.G. Talley of Jacksonville in 1902.  It housed the four lower floor classrooms, storage closets and office space.  The second floor was under construction when we went, but had been the Principal's office, four classrooms and an autorium for the students. The belltower is the third floor of the stucture and is still in its orginal state.  Orginally, the school's restrooms were outhouses but they put in bathrooms in 1916.  The additions of the east and west wings were constructed in 1916 as well and gave the school eight more classrooms and a restroom in the east wing for girls and west wing for boys for the growing student population.  In the beginning, girls and boys were not allowed to play together during recess hours, so the principals window faced out into the playyard (now the George W. Touhy Park) as to oversee that the rules were followed.

In the rear of the school building is the Master Gardener Teaching Gardens established in 1997 which is sponsored by The University of Florida, IFAS Extension.  The gardens were being re-planted today with volunteers of The Student Museum.  The gardens are full with examples of various types of plants and descriptions of their growth and environment.  A small gazebo was constructed within the garden and a small bridge and bench for visitors to sit and relax.  Some of the areas that were shown were Pioneer vegetables and field crops, flower gardens with sunflowers, marigolds and powderpuffs, an Asian garden, a water wise garden and a herb garden with thyme, basil and parsley plants.  This garden was constructed to educate the community and to encourage the practice of urban horticulture.  With its grape arbor and statues, the garden is a small sanctury for relaxation as well as learning about certain plants that grow well in Florida.

Behind the eastern wing of the school down a covered walkway, is the orginal site of the Sanford Grammar School cafeteria built in 1921 by the members of the Welfare Department of the Women's Club of Sanford to introduce hot lunches at school.  The wooden structure was funded by bake sales and contributions from local residents and served hot lunches to students from October 10, 1921 until the school officially closed on June 1, 1984.  The building was demolished on September 23, 2008 but a plaque was put in it's place to serve as memory to the "hot rolls" served there.