Museum field trip highlight of summer school program

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WAYNESBURG – Students who participated in the extended school year program at Jefferson-Morgan Elementary School had an opportunity Friday for a hands-on learning experience at Waynesburg University’s Paul R. Stewart Museum.


Paige Phillips, a 5th-grade student from Jefferson, and Jerry Presock, a 3rd-grade student from Mather, listened intently to museum curator James “Fuzzy” Randolph as he took them on a tour of the museum, tying its collection to Greene County history.


“We had done a lot of hands-on science. I thought this would fit in well with that,” said Kathy Cochran, instructor of the extended school year program for the elementary school. “(Randolph is) really such a wealth of information and more people should be taking advantage of what they have there.”


The extended school year program was developed by the department of education to assist students receiving specialized instruction who have shown proven retention issues following extended breaks in instruction, such as with summer vacation.


To keep the students engaged while attending the program, which runs five days per week over a four-week period, Cochran incorporated activities, such as the museum field trip.


“We had a shark week where they each picked a shark and tracked its movements. We painted and did other art activities. I really tried to make it fun for them while they were learning,” Cochran said.


In keeping with instruction in areas such as science and social studies, Randolph showed the students various pieces of pottery, minerals and fossils, many unearthed at the former Waynesburg College Geology Field Station that was located in Florrisant, Colo. The school discontinued the geology program in the late 1980s.


Randolph, who joined in on many of the Colorado digs, explained how several of the pieces from there and elsewhere were made and the significance to the communities from which they came. Some such pieces were from as nearby as Greensboro, Rices Landing and New Geneva, known for the work of potters there.


The museum houses one of the largest collections of Greensboro pottery in the country. Other holdings include historically significant newspapers and documents, photographs and more.


Randolph credited his mentor, the late Waynesburg College President Paul “Prexy” Stewart, who founded the museum that bears his name, as the person who sparked his love of geology.


A former professor of music at the university and founder of its Lamplighter vocal ensemble, Randolph shared his expertise on the harmonica, playing a variety of songs, much to the delight of Phillips and Presock. Before sending the pair off from the field trip, he prepared a sampling of specimens for his excursions for the students to take as souvenirs.


“I will definitely make it a point to go back again and take some other people with me,” Cochran said. “It is such a hidden treasure. It’s a shame more people don’t realize it is there.”


The museum, located in the basement of Miller Hall on the university campus, is open to the public from 9 a.m. to noon weekdays during the school year. Summer tours are available by appointment. The museum is closed on holidays and during university recesses. Individual or group tours can be arranged by calling Randolph at 724-852-3214.


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