WARREN, NJ - Just a few days after the Warren Township Board of Education's much anticipated discussion of field trips and the seventh and eighth grades returned from their overnight trips, the eighth graders explored local history on the annual eighth grade historical sites tour.

Standing on the same plot of ground where soldiers in the Continental Army are said to have set up camp during the American Revolution, eighth graders from Warren Middle School took a historical look back at what was then called the Middlebrook Encampment and is now the site of Angelo L. Tomaso School.

“The land is flat here,” explained 8th grade peer leader Harrison Gillenwater to a gathered group of schoolmates. “George Washington thought this would be a great place to set up camp.”

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Incorporated in 1806, Warren has a rich history and the middle schoolers’ visit to ALT was just one stop on an annual tour of the township’s historical sites on June 9.

The 8th grade history tour comes as the Warren Township Board of Education addressed the topic of field trips at its June 5 meeting, as part of a discussion of trip destinations and costs. Board President Tia Allocco referred to the district’s policy that states, in part, “the board of education recognizes that field trips can enhance the district’s curriculum and promote the achievement of program goals.” 

“The board recognizes the high value of field trips, both day and overnight, as established in our district policy,” Allocco says. “We will continue discussion on ways to enhance current trips and expand the offerings across the district to the 6th grade and at the elementary level. The Board is also looking at options for minimizing the financial burden on parents and the PTO, particularly in light of declining enrollment.”

Orchestrated by social studies teachers Robert Hartshorn, Lynn Degen, Traci Haise and Josephine Brasile, the history tour includes stops at the Codington Farmstead, said to be the oldest structure in New Jersey owned and operated continuously by the same family from 1742 to 2003, and the Kirch Ford Terrell House, an 18th century farmhouse occupied by three generations of the Kirch family over 121 years. At each of the stops, eighth grade peer leaders helped to set the scene.

“It was wonderful to see student leaders providing the historical overview to their peers at each site,” says Superintendent Matthew Mingle. “As residents of Warren Township, the students drive past these sites hundreds or thousands of times without knowing the treasure trove of historical importance right in their own backyards.”

Other sites visited are the Mount Bethel Meeting House, constructed in 1786 by the county’s first Baptist congregation, and the leafy Hofheimer Grotto, a former copper pit mine transformed in the 1900s by local businessman Nathan Hofheimer into a replica of a grotto Hofheimer had once visited in his native Germany. 

The tour comes to a natural conclusion at Washington Rock State Park, where the students and accompanying staff enjoy a PTO-provided pizza lunch while enjoying a spectacular view of the vista over which General Washington is said to have monitored British troop movements in the valley below.

“I look forward to continued discussion with the Board of Education about the opportunities we provide our students to experience their education beyond the typical confines of a traditional classroom space,” says Mingle. “There is an unmatchable value to standing on the hallowed grounds of a local cemetery and contemplating the importance of 200+ years-old gravestones and the people they represent or sitting in the shadow of an elementary school and imagining General Washington’s tired troops nearby, preparing for the next battle.”

 

Photo #1 - From left, Warren Middle School 8th graders Micah Edwards, Samantha Glass, KatherineDiBari, Emily Gnoy and Annabelle Siegel enjoy a visit to the Codington Farmstead in Warren Township on June 9, as part of an annual field trip exploring the township’s rich history.

Photo #2 - As 8th grade peer leaders Harrison Gillenwater and Chad Martini (R) look on, Warren Middle School social studies teacher Robert Hartshorn explains how Continental soldiers once encamped on the site of what is now Angelo L. Tomaso School.

Photo #3 - A visit to the leafy Hofheimer Grotto in Warren Township is among the interesting stops on a Warren Middle School 8th grade history tour. From left are Leah Seidel, Jaiden Bryant, Bacil Elsheikh, and Maylin Zhu.

Photo #4 - Weathered graves and a beautiful vista provide an interesting backdrop to the MountBethel Meeting House, one of the stops on the WMS 8th grade history tour on June 9.

Photo #5 - From left, Julia Wilczynski, Liz Martinez, Danielle LaCanna, Casadi Lawrence, Kate Carmody, and Angelina Love soak up the history (and the sun) during a June 9 visit to the Moun Bethel Meeting House and other historical sites in Warren Township.