TICONDEROGA - Samuel de Champlain made a stop at the Ticonderoga High School recently to familiarize two 11th grade history classes with his 17th century explorations and experiences.
The program was sponsored by the Ticonderoga Historical Society.
After explaining that he, Don Thompson, was not in reality the 400- year-old navigator, but instead an historical interpreter, he identified with the character of Champlain and maintained that persona for his entire presentation.
Attired in 17th century French costume and with numerous props, he told stories going back to his boyhood of adventures sailing first in Central America and then later along the Atlantic coast, writing down his impressions and crafting his maps and sketches of the wonders he came across.
Then he spoke of his 1609 venture onto the waters of the lake he named after himself and the battle he fought here at Ticonderoga. Fire-making using flint, determining latitude using the Astrolabe and demonstrating the Matchlock Musket intrigued the students.
Earlier the Ticonderoga Historical Society sponsored another history day at school, this time at the Ticonderoga Elementary School.
Sharon Lonergan, a storyteller and interpreter, met with a group of summer school students to talk about Samuel de Champlain in a program, "A Day in New France with Champlain."
Wearing period clothing, Lonergan promised to make history fun. Lonergan, who with her husband Craig operates an antique shop specializing in militaria, brought several artifacts to show and two big baskets of clothing. She had maps to show and stories to tell.
The highlight of this program was a relay contest. After explaining the utility of each of five pieces of clothing for male and female, students were chosen to dress in these costumes, competing with one another to see who could dress the fastest. After the contest all students were invited to deck out in the epoch clothes.
"Samuel de Champlain, the soldier, navigator, explorer, writer, mapmaker, nation builder and adventurer, not only named Lake Champlain, the lake upon which our community borders but, according to his journals, actually touched the soil in what is now Bicentennial Park at the lower La Chute River Falls," said June Curtis, a Ticonderoga Historical Society trustee.
Following each of these programs, the Ticonderoga Historical Society, co-sponsor of the 2009 Celebration Champlain Committee, discussed the proposed Samuel de Champlain monument in the new Champlain Legacy Park, and distributed renderings of the Rock of Ages design.
Students were encouraged to visit the Hancock House and to consider the Ticonderoga Historical Society for their senior projects, community service and volunteer activities.
"By introducing great things to children, children can learn to do great things," Curtis said.
Both programs were funded by a Quadricentennial 2008 Community Mini-Grant funded by the Natural Heritage Trust.
"The Ticonderoga Historical Society is most appreciative of this grant and enjoys the privilege of honoring our cultural heritage and promoting the 2009 Celebrations in our Community and in our schools," Curtis said.