Go West, Young Woman

Farida wrapped brown paper bag remnants around an empty pint milk container.

“I’m making little houses for our town,” she said.

“Our town” is a model of a typical pioneer settlement made of cardboard. “We have a barn, some houses, hotels, and mostly what pioneers would have,” Farida said.

Jennie’s contribution to the fledgling town was a photo studio –  Jennie’s Photography Studio, to be exact. She said students randomly picked buildings to create, but she decided to trade her first choice. She doesn’t remember what she originally picked, but she does know that the photographer’s studio was better than whatever it was.

In addition to building a pioneer town, cooking pioneer foods, and designing quilt squares, students created fictional young women and wrote about their experiences as early settlers.

Sophia shared the journal of her alter-ego, Tanya Grald. Tanya immigrated to Minneapolis from Sweden with her parents and nine siblings in 1852. Her journal recounts her journey and experiences as a settler in the new country.

Speaking as Tanya, Sophia explained, “We came for more land and a better life.”

According to the journal, the family experienced many hardships while they traveled, including a lack of fresh food. “They used hardtack when traveling so it wouldn’t get moldy or old,” Sophia explained.

In the journal, Tanya wrote: “I do not like hardtack. It makes me want to gag. I do not tell Ma or Pa that because they will not want to hear it.”

Sophia said the students made hardtack in class using just flour and water. “It was hard. I couldn’t get through it,” she laughed. “I ended up sucking on it.”

Kira enjoyed the field trips and looking at actual items used during pioneer days. “You are in a room where pioneer people lived,” she said about visiting Oliver Kelley Farm in Elk River. “It felt like I was one of the people who lived there.”

Teacher’s Assistant Evie enjoyed the class as much as the students. “It’s been pretty awesome,” she said. “All the field trips we went on were really interesting. I learned a lot about pioneer life.”

Evie – or “Evsters” as the girls nicknamed her – loved seeing how Summer Academy makes learning come alive.

“All the girls were so engaged in the learning because they want to be here,” she observed.

Well said, Evsters.

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