Back To School Night At Columbia His­toric Park

Riverbank News - - LIVING -

On Satur­day, Sept. 16 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., the pub­lic is in­vited to par­tic­i­pate in Back to School Night 1861 at the Old Columbia School­house in Columbia State His­toric Park. This is a free event. Any do­na­tions will sup­port Friends of Columbia State His­toric Park.

Fes­tiv­i­ties be­gin with mu­sic, cos­tume dress-up, de­li­cious hand-cranked ice cream, 1861 school les­sons in the down­stairs and tours of the up­stairs all led by cos­tumed do­cents. Games and toys of the Gold Rush time pe­riod will also be a part of the event. Visi­tors are en­cour­aged to bring a pic­nic sup­per and a blan­ket or chairs to en­joy the beau­ti­ful sum­mer evening.

Donna Un­der­wood, park do­cent and Back to School Night event co­or­di­na­tor com­ments: “The event is very hands-on for all to ex­pe­ri­ence stu­dent life in the 1860s. From mu­sic to the les­sons to the toys, each year this spe­cial event al­lows us all to step back and take a look at ed­u­ca­tion and fam­ily life in the Gold Rush. It’s never too late to learn.”

The two-story brick school house on the hill was built in 1860 and the first class ses­sion be­gan in 1861. Prior to this pub­lic school, stu­dents in Columbia could at­tend pri­vate schools usu­ally held in teacher’s homes. The Columbia school­house is thought to be the old­est twos­tory brick school­house in Cal­i­for­nia and was used un­til 1937 when it was forced to close be­cause it did not meet new Cal­i­for­nia earth­quake stan­dards. The build­ing was pur­chased by the State of Cal­i­for­nia in 1947 and money was raised to re­store it to its for­mer glory. Dimes, nick­els and pen­nies were col­lected in me­tal school­house­shaped banks through­out Cal­i­for­nia and do­na­tions to­taled around $57,000. Restora­tion of the build­ing was com­pleted in the 1950s.

The build­ing is still used to­day for field trips to teach ap­prox­i­mately 10,000 stu­dents what school was like dur­ing the Gold Rush. Th­ese pro­grams are given by trained vol­un­teers and staff mem­bers with a pas­sion for his­tory and reen­act­ment.

Back to School Night is spon­sored by Friends of Columbia State His­toric Park. For more in­for­ma­tion, con­tact the park of­fice at (209) 588-9128 or visit www.parks. ca.gov/columbia.

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