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More than a toga party: Pupils feel ancient escaping into history's catacombs

Staff writer

Emma Hamm and Easton Jost spend most of their time as Hillsboro sixth graders.

But several days last week, they transformed into ancient Romans.

Emma and Easton were part of a group of students in Kyle Kroeker’s social studies class who helped build “ancient” Roman catacombs in a section of their school library.

All of Kroeker’s students made artifacts for the catacombs. A small group did all the building for the class project.

They spent Martin Luther King Jr. Day working on a catacomb “escape room” that students crawled through and climbed on as they deciphered clues.

The group worked on the project during study halls as well, also writing a script for a short video they starred in, filmed, and directed.

(Note to Mr. Kroeker: They may or may not have mentioned that they didn’t receive extra credit.)

“We’ve been studying ancient Rome in social studies,” Adalynn Winter said. “Each student was assigned a topic, and we created 24 artifacts.”

The catacombs in a small supply room in Wiebe Media Center were pitch-black. Monks greeted visitors — fifth graders, seventh graders, parents, grandparents, and siblings — inside. So did skeletons, which the students named Jerry and Leonard.

“The skeletons were stuffed,” Easton said. “The monks were real.”

Visitors used flashlights and headlamps to shuffle through the catacombs, collecting Latin words illuminated with black light.

“We haven’t gotten any bad reviews,” Ashtyn Matlock said.

(Note to Adalynn’s and Ashtyn’s parents: They might have careers in public relations.)

Building the catacombs took a lot of vision, students said.

“We had so many ideas in our head,” Ashtyn said.

Hudson Sibayan said his favorite part of the project was “seeing everyone enjoy it.”

Kolton Fenske liked the problem-solving and engineering aspects of creating catacombs out of cardboard.

“We put a whole wall up and then in the morning, it’d fallen down,” he said.

Oliver Hein said the group ran out of paper, which it used to cover walls, texturized with chalk, but he came to the rescue from some he found in a supply closet.

Josie Gooch enjoyed using her imagination.

The students even got to borrow some real bones from an anatomy class, but they had to return the bones because too many people were picking them up.

“One thing that was neat was all the teamwork,” Emma said.

“I feel like we exceeded our expectations,” Ashtyn said.

Missing Friday but part of the team was Lexi Lee.

The students were grateful for help from school librarian Janet Whisenhunt — especially because she supplied pizza and cookies.

Last modified Feb. 2, 2023

 

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