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The Octagon

Sophomore chemistry students tag along on fourth graders’ trip to Sutter’s Fort (slideshow included)

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This year’s fourth-grade trip to Sutter’s Fort can’t be called a class trip anymore; they weren’t the only grade there.

From March 1-2, the fourth-grade class took their annual trip to Sutter’s Fort. This year, as part of an experiment due to the lack of fourth-grade parents because of the class’s small size, high-school students also visited the fort.

Twenty-seven high-school students assisted on the trip. Most of the volunteers were from the sophomore chemistry class, but some also came from teacher Patricia Portillo’s AP Spanish class.

Originally the AP chemistry class also planned to go. However, due to the large number of sophomore volunteers, it was determined to be unnecessary.

In addition, junior Lily Brown came on the trip to play the violin.

All volunteers from the high school dressed up in clothes from the fort’s 1850s time period, provided by the fourth-grade teachers.

The volunteers stayed at Sutter’s Fort from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and ate lunch with the fourth graders.

The AP Spanish students spoke Spanish and acted as Californios: people who had been living in California before the pioneers arrived. Senior Austin Talamantes also gave a presentation about what life was like as a Californio during that time period.

Sophomores Monique Lonergan and Chloé Collinwood said that they enjoyed dressing up for Sutter’s Fort, and, for Lonergan, that “it made it feel like we were stepping back in time.”

According to sophomore Mehdi Lacombe, in order to prepare for their trip to the fort, the volunteers from the chemistry class made posters about saponification, the process of making soap, and medicinal plants.

They used the posters to explain the chemical process behind saponification to the fourth graders and other visitors.

Some sophomores also talked about how to make homemade remedies such as cough syrup from herbs and plants available to the pioneers. Others taught the fourth graders how to make rope.

Chemistry teacher Victoria Conner originally planned on making soap at the fort, but, due to a miscommunication about the available resources, decided to not bring the soap-making supplies there.

Next year, the sophomores are going to bring the soap-making supplies and make soap while they are there.

Fourth-grade teacher Pam Livesey said that the fourth graders enjoyed having the older students with them, and that the attitude of the high schoolers made it clear that they were also enjoying themselves.

“We will definitely be doing it again next year,” Livesey said. “With more planning and one year under our belt, we can make it even better!”

By David Situ

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