Published DateLACONIA — The Belknap Mill in downtown Laconia will once again offer its Fourth Grade school program, titled My First Day of Work at the Mill. The ambitious program runs from May 1 to June 7.
The event is under the direction of volunteer Helga Stamp, who works to coordinate the month-long program.
Schools from all over the state and beyond are invited to bus their fourth graders to the Belknap Mill for the history program; each school's students spend the day in the Mill, immersed in the roles of former Mill workers.
"We welcome volunteers for this year's program," says Stamp. "It's a lot of fun and for those who cannot make a long-term volunteer commitment, it only requires helping in the month of May and into early June."
Volunteers are needed as role players or color group leaders for the school program. "Training will be provided, so all volunteers will feel comfortable with their assigned task," adds Stamp.
One volunteer who has gone above and beyond the call of duty is retired engineer Jon Pounds. Last year, he created a working model to show how the Mill distributed power before converting to electric generators.
Pounds created a model that which helps teach children about mill power. The model is now encased in clear plexiglass and it is a permanent part of the Power House exhibit.
Once children arrive at the Mill for the program (it runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.), they are divided into color groups and given period costumes of mill workers. Then they are given a nametag and a time card.
"A student could be assigned the role of a 14 or 16 year old mill worker," says Stamp. "They could be given the job of turner boy; when the Mill was in operation, young people could work part time in the mill at age 14 and at age 16, they could work full time.
"Once they punch in, students are greeted by a role player/volunteer dressed as mill boss Mr. Morin. After this, they are sent to various stations around the building with their tour guide. Then they regroup for the 'assembly line' (it's a simulated line) to learn the importance of team work."
After a lunch break, children listen to an impact segment, which teaches the importance of economics; when the mill did well, the community finances were better. The program covers math and social studies, both vital components of a fourth grade school curriculum.
A training day takes place on Tuesday, April 30 at the Belknap Mill. It offers a refresher for returning volunteers and training for first-time volunteers for the program.
Those who would like to learn more about becoming a volunteer, can contact the Belknap Mill at 524-8813.
Belknap Mill's Fourth Grade Program. (Courtesy photo)