The fifth-graders of Cleveland Elementary participated in their annual Civil War Ball last Friday.
Each May, for the past six years, Cleveland Elementary transforms its gym into an elaborate ballroom. Fifth-grade teachers Janice Melton, Jennifer Roberts, Brett Thrasher, and Anthony Reid prepare the children throughout the school year using their history lessons. The students then incorporate their Civil War knowledge into a role-play celebration.
The hours dedicated to this project are obvious. The girls dress in elaborate gowns of ruffles and bustles, with their hair in ringlets. Not to be overshadowed, the boys equally enjoy their roles as Confederate soldiers and farmers. Surprisingly, both genders seem to enjoy showing off their dos-a’-dos and allemandes.
The gym walls are lined with different scenes indicative of the era, from an antebellum parlor to a farmyard picnic. Parents cover tables with red-and-white checked cloths and 19th-century treats.
Paula Kretzschmar, elementary counselor, plays a fictional role of Ada Beth Sullivan. Throughout her story, the children perform different dances that are incorporated into the story line. Ms. Kretzschmar credits the event saying, “It (the Civil War Ball) allows the students to learn teamwork, manners, and perseverance through role play.”
Students and teachers agree that the Civil War Ball is a fun way to learn. As younger students anxiously wait for their chance to participate, this year’s fifthgraders consider it a right of passage into junior high. Just as Civil War history is passed through the decades, this Cleveland tradition promises to do the same.