An unexpected benefit of the worldwide pandemic has been the opening up of opportunities for virtual visits to places Graland students would not have ordinarily gone in person. One such trip transported fourth graders across the country and back in time to Gunston Hall in Virginia.
“We’ve been studying the 13 original colonies across three regions: Middle, New England and Southern,” said Grade 4 Teacher Courtney Menk. “We’ve been exploring the different economies of each region, based on the available natural resources, and their impact on society during colonial times. Gunston Hall provided us with an example of life in the Southern colonies.”
The estate was the home of George Mason, who was a leading figure in the American Revolution and a member of the Constitutional Congress. Mason was known as an author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights and wrote, “That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights...” He had a reputation for denouncing slavery; however, students learned he was a slave owner with an estimated 100-300 enslaved people working in his home, and on his estate and tobacco plantation.
“Students asked good questions,” said Ms. Menk. “They wanted to know how the plantation worked, and they were curious about the relationships between the Mason family and the enslaved people. They wanted to understand why they had slaves.”
The field trip served as a peek into life for the colonialists in advance of learning about life during the same era from the slave perspective.
Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.