This time last week I was on a bus to Gettysburg with the 4th and 5th grade classes from PUCS (Pittsburgh Urban Christian School: k-8 Christian school here in Pittsburgh started by CCO staff over 35 years ago). Thirty kids full of energy and twenty parent chaperones all went riding along Pennsylvania’s beautiful countryside in one giant tour bus. PUCS has an integrated curriculum and multi-grade classroom model. Every two years all the 4th and 5th graders study the Civil War and then visit Gettysburg in the spring. I had the chance to do this with Tessa two years ago and it was a very powerful experience. Riah, as the youngest, is our last elementary student and this is the last time we ‘ll be doing this trip, it was Mike’s turn but since it involves history he declined 🙂
The schedule was packed but we made the most of the two days we had. The kids saw the battle fields, climbed towers and rocks,
went to the museum, saw the cyclorama (click here to see what the cyclorama is…I didn’t know either.),
went out to dinner, went swimming at the hotel, the next day we went back to the battlefield, back to the museum , and then had a memorial service. (you can click on any of the pictures to see them enlarged if some are too small)
To prepare for the experience the students are given the name of a Union soldier from Allegheny county that fought and died at Gettysburg. These young men are buried at the battlefield cemetery. In the fall, the students study the history of their soldier and they learn about eulogies. Then they prepare a eulogy for their soldier and a memorial plaque.
The final stop on the trip is the memorial cemetery where the students place a flag at their soldier’s grave, hold a memorial service, and share their eulogies.
After walking the fields over which Pickett charged, running up the hill to the point at which the Union repelled the Confederate troops, climbing up to Devil’s den and standing on Little Roundtop these kids are excited, engaged and changed by seeing and thinking about the effect that the Civil War has had on their country and their lives to this day.
I love that PUCS is as diverse as it is, the kids come from many different families and experiences: former missionary kids (several families), former home schoolers (more families) adopted, internationally adopted, black, white, asian, latino, low income, middle and high. It’s a real mix and while nothing is perfect, the kids at PUCS like and respect each other and do not take for granted the blessing it is to be able to study, work and play together freely. It is a picture of heaven.
Just a little plug for PUCS. The big fundraiser for PUCS isn’t a bake sale or candy sale. It isn’t even a walk-a-thon. No, PUCS’ big fundraiser (that raises the scholarship money that permits our kids to go the best school in the city) is an act of service. PUCS is located in Wilkinsburg part of Pgh. Wilkinsburg is a fairly depressed area and can be a tough neighborhood. For the past ten years, PUCS students have sought people to sponsor them to pick up trash in Wilkinsburg.
Now called “Pick-up-with-PUCS”, the event takes the entire school outside (last Friday) to pick up trash and debris around their neighborhood. The event is in partnership with Nine Mile Run Watershed Association since Nine Mile run is the creek where all of Wilkinsburg trash ends up. It is an awesome witness to see the kids “washing the feet” of the community where they learn and play.
(click here if you’d like to donate) I appreciate the combined vision of earth care, community care, and working together to financially assist families so their kids can get a great education.
Mike’s graduation is almost here and we are still praying and waiting for God to open up the “view” to our next season.
Love you all, Nicole
Update on Emily H. Thank you all for praying so hard. She had surgery on her neck and back to remove to do an excision, do a biopsy and remove some lymph nodes on her neck. You can pray for a swift resolution to some numbness in neck, chest, and shoulder from the surgery. Emily emailed to say:
Friends: We received the good news this morning – the pathology report came back negative so we are cancer free! and of course, we are very relieved!!
Thanks for making space for us, your prayers, and support.