On Friday morning, hundreds of third grade students from all over Randolph County spent a day learning about Randolph County history in Downtown Winchester. The damp weather changed plans somewhat. Instead of gathering on the Bicentennial Plaza at the Randolph County Courthouse, students from Monroe Central Elementary, Union Elementary, Randolph Southern Elementary, Deerfield Elementary, Northside Elementary, and Willard Elementary gathered in the Towne Square Community where they were welcomed to the event by Missy Williams. 

Senior Braydon Hoggatt of Union City passed the microphone to each of his fellow 14 Randolph County Seniors who helped to raise money for one of the clock-faces that would be placed atop the historic courthouse as a part of its renovation. During the 2010-2011 school year, second graders participated in the Penny Project. 14 of these children participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the renovation of the courthouse. Keeping a promise from that day, these Randolph County Seniors were recognized for their efforts on Friday morning.

 Dylan Wickersham spoke to the students of how his grandfather started a lunch stand at the Anchor Hocking Glass Factory which led to the Rainbow Restaurant in Winchester and eventually evolved into Wick’s Pies and Mrs. Wick’s. Wickersham then gave the students a brief quiz on what he had just told them, giving a prize package including a free Wick’s pie to those that answered correctly. 

The third graders then split into groups and toured over a dozen stations that had been set up to teach them various aspects of Randolph County History. Ted Leahey and Dane Starbuck told the children of the two Indiana Governors produced by Randolph County. Leahey as Union City’s Isaac Gray, and Starbuck as Winchester’s James Goodrich. On the third floor of the courthouse, Leslie Jones spoke to the children about the Doughboy statue. Terry Wymire, in Civil War uniform, spoke to the students about the Soldier’s and Sailor’s Monument.

Tom Franklin and Ted Martin brought history to life for the children with a presentation on fur trading. Complete with period garb. Bob Lemon spoke to the youngsters about the history of the Winchester Speedway. “We had planned on bringing some race cars to show the children, but due to the weather, those plans were changed,” he said.

Thursa Short and other museum volunteers lead the students through the rooms and exhibits as the children toured the Randolph County Historical Museum. The third graders learned about the family of Carey Goodrich that lived in and built the building that would become the museum. The children were allowed to touch several items from the museum as well. Many seemed to enjoy trying on the World War I era Army helmet and jacket. They were also fascinated by something many of them had never seen, a rotary telephone. The rain also dashed the plan to have some antique automobiles parked outside of the museum.

The children also toured many of the government offices in the Randolph County courthouse where they learned about what these offices do for the citizens of Randolph County. They also learned a great deal about the history of Randolph County and the mural depicting it from Elizabeth Winningham. Winningham told of the meaning of various scenes in the mural that was painted by her grandfather, Roy Barnes, the Randolph County artist who painted the mural. Winningham recently discovered a sketchbook that he used when painting the mural. 

Employees from Ohio Valley Gas helped to provide lunch for the children, grilling hot dogs and serving chips and drinks to the children. Dylan Wickersham and Wick’s Pies provided sugar cream pies for dessert. The Winchester Wal-Mart store 1480 provided lunch for those in attendance consisting of a hot dog, chips, and a drink. Ohio Valley Gas and Tarter Realty grilled 400 hot dogs for the event. Dylan Wickersham and other community volunteers served slices of Wick’s sugar cream pie for dessert.

Though the rainy weather caused some last minute changes to the event, the students still had a very fun and educational day learning of local history. “This field trip will educate our students about the history and heritage of Randolph County,” said Williams. “Our elementary students are educated at six different schools. Bringing them together in one group will help to instill a pride in being a Randolph County citizen. The fact that Randolph County has produced two Governors shows them that they too can make a difference,” she continued. “Hands on experiences like this help them to connect to their county and their past,” she concluded.

The students seemed to enjoy the experience. They learned a great deal about their local history, many things that may not be in their textbooks. As they grow older they will appreciate this experience more and more, as these students will go on to make their own history.

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