4th Grade Rendezvous Takes Students Back in Time


Lewiston 4th graders now have a greater understanding of history and some special memories for the future.

The annual 4th Grade Rendezvous gives students a unique opportunity to explore the past. Put on by the school district's enrichment program, Rendezvous is a tradition dating back over 20 years that takes fourth graders back nearly 200 years to bring Idaho history to life.

"Yeehaw!" the 400 students filling the Nez Perce County Fair building yell. They've all been waiting for this particular part of an old-timey song.

Maggie says, "This is Rendezvous so we learn about pioneers and Indians and what it was like when they came out for the Gold Rush in California."

The day-long event gives Lewiston 4th graders a chance to get hands-on with Idaho history in a culmination of what they've studied all year long.

In one corner of the fair building, members of the Nez Perce County Historical Society play another old-timey tune, though this one doesn't pump out of a stereo. It's played by hand - an Irish flute. A washboard. A washtub bass.

Because when you get to hear it, see it, and touch it for yourself - that's what makes it easy to learn.

The kids all have their favorite of multiple stations. "Probably the wagon ride for me, that was really fun," Maggie says. Quinn and Bianca chime in, "Yeah, singing the songs."

Hooves clomp on pavement as large draft horses carry wagonfuls of kids. From animals to archaeology, canoe carving to rope making, the experience of inserting yourself in history makes it all the more memorable. Bianca learned how to cock a gun, "like one in the olden days." Maggie also enjoyed learning about antique firearms. "There's a certain type of gun where you can take it in half, so that really interested me."

That new knowledge of what the "olden days" were like may lead to an appreciation of modern advancements. Take Dr. Rush's mercury-based medicines, intended to purge the body of fluids - one way or another.

Lewis and Clark historian Donal Wilkinson says, "You know more about medicine than he did and he was the most preeminent doctor in North America. The Corps of Discovery took 50 dozen of these with them when they went West and they used them for everything. Rattlesnake bites, headache." Wilkinson explains all the pills served to do was cause vomiting or other nasty, dehydrating effects.

Like those who came before them - those who pioneered the Rendezvous 23 years ago- these kids will never forget the day they went back in time.

"If you're not in fourth grade yet, you're going to love Rendezvous," Bianca says. Quinn and Maggie second that. "Yeah, Rendezvous is really fun."

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