Weekly Feature

2018-03-07 / Education

Seventh-grade capstone projects to be exhibited at Historical Society


It’s a project as old as the school itself.

The Clarence Middle School seventh grade capstone project has flummoxed students since its introduction in the 1950s and educator Barbara Gilmour’s first year of teaching, but its real value lies in its ability to connect them to the town’s history and in facilitating an appreciation of it.

The project requires students to research and construct a meticulous scale model of a historic Clarence site or building.

“This is something that really helps to connect kids to the history of the town. It feels all very abstract beforehand,” said Kate Mockler Jenkins of the Clarence Historical Society.

“You don’t have a sense of how much life has changed, what the structures meant to the town and how it has evolved. After spending several months trying to track down every piece of information you can on the building, it sort of becomes tangible.”

The Clarence Historical Society serves as a key resource for the students, and to aid them in their quest to build accurate models of their respective locations, the society will hold open hours for research from 1 to 3 p.m. on the first and third Saturdays of March and April, in addition to its normal hours of operation.

This year, the society will celebrate the more than 50-year-old educational tradition with a special exhibit.

For many years, the best of the projects would be donated to the society.

Now, its entire collection will be on display, many of them more than two decades old.

Jenkins recalls her own assignment in which she built a model of Shope Cemetery and the initial awe of seeing other projects.

“I remember being blown away by them,” she said. “They really were on a different level from what we were used to making, so it was intimidating.”

Doug Kohler, the Clarence town historian and a social studies teacher at Clarence Middle School, has watched as generations of students have passed through his class, each time experiencing the trials and tribulations of completing the challenging, but ultimately rewarding project.

“What we like most about it, is that it’s not the kind of thing students are able to do sitting behind their comp uter,” he said.

“They’re going to have to go to the museum, to the genealogy building, visit some of these buildings and sites firsthand.”

According to Kohler, the Historical Society has taken steps through the years to ensure that it remains a valuable resource for students researching their respective projects, from property records to obtaining new literature that contains information about town history.

The new exhibit will be the first time in which the society has presented all of the collected projects simultaneously.

For Jenkins, seeing the projects in one place, each one representative of history by Clarence and about Clarence, will serve as a testament to the town’s admiration of its roots.

“We’re hoping that some people will want to come back and view their old projects,” she said.

The Clarence Historical Society, located at 10465 Main St., opened for the season on March 3.

Return to top

Clarence Special Events 2018
Click for schedule