Last year, “06880” sounded the alarm that the Jennings Trail Tour had been canceled.
A staple of local 3rd grade life for years — once an actual bus tour of historic Westport highlights — a while ago it morphed into a field trip to Wheeler House, the Westport Historical Society‘s very historic home.
Now — ta da! — the field trip is back.
Director of elementary education Julie Droller revived it — and enlisted Staples High School senior interns as docents. A team, including WHS education director Elizabeth DeVoll and town arts curator Kathie Motes Bennewitz worked to make the tour fit current curriculum requirements.
In a 2-week span, over 500 kids marveled at artifacts and photos that told of Westport’s long-ago rich farmland, fish-filled river and bustling shipping industry. Robert Lambdin’s “Saugatuck in the 19th Century” mural also mesmerized them.
The docents challenged them with questions like, “What was it like to be a kid in Westport 150 years ago?”
The 3rd grade social studies curriculum includes a study of Connecticut and Westport history. On the Jennings Trail tour, the youngsters created a local timeline, from long ago to today. Each one created an Archival Folder, to bring home.
In 1997, Paul Newman wrote in a Historical Society booklet, “Westport is special to us because it’s home.”
That was a decade before the current 3rd graders were born. If they know Paul Newman at all, it’s as that lemonade guy.
But thanks to the Jennings Trail Tour, a new generation of young Westporters is learning a great deal about the town that they too call home.