Linking Past to Present

Students visit Gettysburg as part of a Civil War unit

by Samantha Gibisser and Ella DFazio

gettysburgTo tie in what students were learning in class, American Cultures I and Honors American Cultures I classes took a field trip to the Gettysburg National Military Park, Museum & Visitor Center, and the Gettysburg Battlefield. 

Mrs. Kennedy and Mr. Frick have been taking this trip for years and never get bored because they tend to learn something new every time they visit. “It is better to show kids instead of just telling them” Mr. Frick said. 

The Gettysburg National Military Park consists of the American Civil War museum, the visitors center with a movie and the Cyclorama, and a numerous amount of battlefields you can visit with a licensed Battlefield Guide.  Buses dropped of the students at the museum and visitors center first.

After walking around the gift shop, the classes took turns going into the museum, watching the movie, and getting to see the Cyclorama. The movie lasted about a half an hour, and then students left the theater to go upstairs to see the Cyclorama.

The Cyclorama is the 360 view of the original painting of the Gettysburg battlefields done by French artist, Paul Phillippotaeux in the 1800s. The painting is 377 feet long and 42 feet high all around and weighs about 12.5 tons. 

Lights and a three dimensional diorama in the foreground of the painting were added to create an effect while a recording is played to explain the painting. They even added items onto the floor to make it seem more realistic, such as hats, guns, and stray items that would have fallen off of wounded soldiers. The Cyclorama opened to visitors on September 26, 2008. gettysburg2

The first tour group led by a battlefield tour guide, took a ride from the visitors center to their first stop, The Eternal Light Peace Memorial.  After getting to see the eternal flame on the top of the monument, the students got back on the bus to go climb a lookout to see the battlefields from above.  Then, the tour guide took them to Little Roundtop, the hill used as a defensive tactic from the Union soldiers. As their last stop the students got to see the Pennsylvania State Memorial.  

The second tour group was led by a battlefield expert.  The first monument that group number 2 visited was the State of Virginia Monument, and then walked shortly over to a historic cannon. The next spot we visited, was Little Roundtop. Little Roundtop also has a view of Devil’s Den which buses couldn’t visit.  Next, we visited the 1st Minnesota Infantry monument. Lastly, we visited the Pennsylvania State Memorial, which we could climb up stairs to stand at the very top of the monument to see the view.