Grant to fund Battle of Bennington curriculum for MAUMS students Grant funds program on Battle history

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BENNINGTON — The Bennington Museum has received a $5,000 grant that will help fund an educational program about the Battle of Bennington, a first step in preparing for the 250th anniversary of the battle that takes place in 2027.

Local historian Phil Holland and Bennington Museum Director of Public Programs Deana Mallory will act as co-coordinators for the program, which will involve seventh grade students from Mount Anthony Union Middle School's "White Rocks" team. The two-week curriculum is being scheduled for May, and will involve cross-curricular studies between social studies, math, science and English.

Holland and Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce President Jonah Spivak came up with the idea for the project, and Holland said that he and colleagues were responsible for writing the grant request. Spivak spoke about the project at the Chamber's recent Legislative Breakfast.

The grant is a Local Heritage Grant from the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership, which covers Franklin, Chittenden, Addison, Rutland and Bennington counties in Vermont and Clinton, Essex, Warren, Saratoga and Washington counties in New York. According to the organization's website, www.champlainvalleynhp.org, "the LCBP works in partnership with government agencies from New York, Vermont, and Quebec, private organizations, local communities, and individuals to coordinate and fund efforts which benefit the Lake Champlain Basin's water quality, fisheries, wetlands, wildlife, recreation, and cultural resources."

"One of the great features of this grant is that it calls for students to have creative encounters with the battle," said White Rocks social studies teacher Amy Moriarty. "History is where evidence meets imagination. Rather than asking students to understand the battle solely from textbook accounts, we plan to invite them to discover it for themselves, working principally from primary sources, including some from the museum's collection."

Holland said that seventh grade is the perfect target age for a project like this, since they are young enough that they still have plenty to learn about history, but old enough to handle interpreting primary source documents. He said the planning committee has sketched out some early plans, including a guided visit to the battlefield, hopefully facilitated by the Friends of the Bennington Battlefield.

In addition to funding this year's education program, Holland said that the grant money will be used to create a set of materials that will be able to be used by future classes.

"The Battle of Bennington presents an opportunity for local students to reckon with the forces of history and historical memory. It is a subject that directly involves their civic identities and the economic health of this region," said Robert Wolterstorff, executive director of the Bennington Museum. "We are especially pleased to be partnering with teachers and staff at MAUMS to carry out this project."

The Battle of Bennington took place on August 16, 1777, in what is now Walloomsac, New York, about 10 miles from Bennington. Colonial militiamen, largely from New Hampshire and Massachusetts, led by General John Stark defeated a detachment of soldiers from British General John Burgoyne's army, depriving it of much needed supplies.

Derek Carson can be reached at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com, at @DerekCarsonBB on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 122.

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