OKLAHOMA CITY – More than 300 Oklahoma students will travel back in time and meet such historical figures as Revolutionary War hero James Armistead Lafayette and Benjamin Franklin during the 18th annual Colonial Day, slated Friday, Feb. 7, at the Oklahoma History Center, 800 Nazih Zuhdi Dr., Oklahoma City. The program is presented by Colonial Williamsburg and George Washington teacher institute alumni in partnership with the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence.
Students from Cherokee, Enid, Norman, Oakdale, Oklahoma City and Putnam City public schools will be dressed in colonial-period attire for the hands-on history education event. Activities will take place from 9:15 a.m. to 1:40 p.m. at the Oklahoma History Center. Due to renovations at the State Capitol – the traditional location for Colonial Day – the event is being hosted this year by the Oklahoma History Center, which has been a longtime participant in Colonial Day educational programming.
Students will have the opportunity to interact with people from the past – portrayed by historical interpreters – and participate in such teacher-led sessions as colonial dancing, period games, tin smithing and Native American history. The day will include a student-led Bill of Rights song during opening ceremonies in the Devon Great Hall.
Highlighting this year’s Colonial Day will be special appearances by Colonial Williamsburg historical interpreter Stephen Seals, who will portray slave and Patriot spy James Armistead Lafayette; Mount Vernon historical interpreters Brenda Parker, performing as Priscilla, one of more than 300 slaves who lived and worked at Mount Vernon; and Tom Plott, playing Dr. James Craik, George Washington’s close friend and physician. Stephen Smith, a Tulsa historical interpreter, will return for his 18th Colonial Day performance as Benjamin Franklin; and Janet Bass, librarian at Oklahoma Christian School, will reprise her role as Revolutionary War spy Wyn Mabee.
“Colonial Day is an engaging and action-packed day of learning that brings early American history to life for Oklahoma students,” said Colonial Day Director Teresa Potter, a teacher at Oakdale Elementary School in EDMOND. “We are grateful to the many teachers, volunteers and sponsors who make this learning experience possible and appreciate the Oklahoma History Center hosting this year’s event.”
The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence will recognize the winner of its Colonial Day Literature Contest during opening ceremonies at 9:15 a.m. in the House of Representatives Chambers. Colonial Williamsburg’s James Armistead Lafayette will present a plaque and $100 to literature contest winner Charlie Balthrop of Eisenhower Elementary School in NORMAN. The theme of the annual contest is “What It Means to Be an American.”
Colonial Day is coordinated by teachers who have participated in the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute through a fellowship program administered by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence or who have attended the George Washington Teacher Institute at Mount Vernon. Joining Potter as coordinators of this year’s Colonial Day are Jan Morris, Soldier Creek Elementary School in MIDWEST CITY; Jessica Brandon, Barnes Elementary School, MIDWEST CITY; and Kristle Morris, Northridge Elementary School, Putnam City Schools, OKLAHOMA CITY.
Schools participating in Colonial Day are Cherokee Public School in CHEROKEE; Oakdale Elementary School in EDMOND; Coolidge Elementary School in ENID; Eisenhower Elementary School, NORMAN; John Rex Elementary School in OKLAHOMA CITY; and Rollingwood and Northridge Elementary Schools, Putnam City Schools, OKLAHOMA CITY.
Major funding for Colonial Day at the Capitol is provided by a grant from Oklahoma Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The event is also made possible with support from Aunt Pittypat’s Catering, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Embassy Suites by Hilton Oklahoma City Northwest, George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens, Mattocks Printing Co., the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma History Center, the Oklahoma Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Charles L. Oppenheim, and the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence.