Muncy students explore history of their home

Most people aren’t aware of the history that’s passing under their feet as they walk through their neighborhood. But some students at Muncy High School are learning just how significant their area was through a new class that focuses on a chronological history of a place that was once the frontier of America.

The teacher of the elective in its first year, Jared Snyder, began building contacts and the curriculum for the class about a year ago.

“A course like it was taught at one time in Muncy, but not for decades,” Snyder said.

Hughesville currently has a local history class, but Muncy has a much more vibrant history, he said.

The elective available to students in seventh through twelfth grade is split into two parts – Pennsylvania government followed by the chronological history of Muncy all the way up to the 1920s.

Snyder, who is already a history buff, learned a lot through organizing the class.

“… Including traders of the Revolutionary War and folks who could call Thomas Jefferson a friend,” he said. “That’s pretty cool.”

Although the class is mainly focused on informing Muncy students about Muncy, the class steps outside of the borough with significant movements in the greater area like the log boom.

A unique course like this is important to impress on the students how crucial the area they live in was and is, Snyder said.

“For most kids, they have no idea how important Muncy has been … for them to know that this small town in rural Pennsylvania was once a part of the frontier is important. At one time, this was the frontier … this was the extent of Manifest Destiny – the notion that it was America’s right and responsibility to explore its vast territory.”

With a full classroom of around 28 students, the class is being received very well, Snyder said.

A popular aspect of the class is taking the students out to historic sites and letting them tangibly see what it is they learned about back in the classroom.

The class has coordinated with the Barlow family to visit the historic property of Muncy Manor and taken multiple trips as part of a living Revolutionary War Tour.

The tour began at Herman and Luther’s Historic Barn on Route 87 where the first scalping after the Big Runaway occurred and continued to Fort Muncy and all the way to Fort Freeland where famous frontiersman Daniel Boone’s cousin was supposedly killed.

Students also got to experience life in the 19th century first hand when they visited an old schoolhouse and set up a lesson that would be similar to one a student in the 1800s would sit in.

And the testimony from the students’ trips say a lot, Snyder said.

“Visiting the Eight Square Schoolhouse and Old Wallis Mill was a really incredible and unique experience for us,” Emma Hogan said. “I think I can say for myself and the rest of the class that we all enjoyed it and would do it again.”

“We’ve done so many amazing things this year in our history class,” Rory Ogden said. “Mr. Snyder has been so invested in this class and he’s arranged many field trips for us.”

“I find it amazing to learn about how times change and how different our lives are now compared to back then,” Breanna King said.

“I never knew such a small town could have so much history in it,” Max Rymsza said.

Students taking the class next year will focus on much of the same material and go to many of the same places, but Snyder is also expanding and continuously looking for more connections to the area to make it relevant to the students, he said.

Students will be participating in an archaeological dig at the site of John Brady’s home and fort – a historic site that hasn’t been excavated since the 1930s.

“So they will be involved in a once in a generation opportunity,” Snyder said.