Fifth-Graders Learn About the Underground Railroad

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Fifth grade students in Joan Crowley’s class enjoyed experiential learning about the Underground Railroad on Thursday, June 3. The Underground Railroad experience capped off a segment on the Civil War that the students have recently learned about in Ms. Crowley’s class.

Though slavery is a serious subject, the kids were able to learn a bit about the slaves’ long journeys to freedom in a fun way, while still experiencing a very tiny taste of how hard it was for slaves to gain safe passage on the Underground Railroad. Students’ experiences, via a day of learning how to avoid “the foes” at school, will surely be something they won’t soon forget. 

The Hampton Bays Underground Railroad premise was easy: in order to be “set free,” the students needed to gather seven “friend” signatures before they were caught by/received three “foes” signatures.

The dozen or so “friends” (teachers and administrators assigned by Ms. Crowley) were marked with a burning candle in their windows or on their doors—similar to the types of safe haven symbols and clues left back in the days of the real Underground Railroad.  

Additionally, there were approximately five “foes” patrolling the hallways--sometimes staked right outside the “friends” rooms--who were just waiting to catch those on their journey to freedom.

At the end of the Underground Railroad re-creation, those who had received the requisite seven “friends” signatures were freed, but those who were first caught by three “foes” remained enslaved.