Historical activities ‘churn’ into timeless lessons

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published December 4, 2017

 Travon Cribbs, left, takes his turn mixing the ice cream in class Nov. 20 with help from Warren Woods Tower High School paraprofessional Ken Giorlando.

Travon Cribbs, left, takes his turn mixing the ice cream in class Nov. 20 with help from Warren Woods Tower High School paraprofessional Ken Giorlando.

Photo by Donna Agusti

WARREN — When brainstorming class projects to do for the month of November, students in the Warren Woods Tower High School leisure recreation class decided they wanted to learn more about what pioneers did for fun.

Without electricity, machinery, and devices like iPads and television sets, the students were curious to find out just what kind of pastimes were available during the 1800s. So, class paraprofessional Ken Giorlando, a history buff and local Civil War reenactment participant, brought in some friends and some equipment to drift back to the past.

Last month, which was dubbed “old-time month,” the students — whom are special-needs students and in their 20s — participated in activities that put them in a time warp. They saw how corn husk dolls were made, listened to storytelling, welcomed a fiddle player, and used leaves and acorns for different activities.

On the afternoon of Nov. 20, things turned sweet when Giorlando brought in his 19th-century ice cream maker replica so the students could make ice cream the old-fashioned way, via a crank handle.

“Ice cream was not readily available,” Giorlando said. “It was a treat. They would make it to celebrate the Fourth of July.”

The ingredients to make the tasty treat included eggs, heavy whipping cream, whole milk, sugar and blueberries. Giorlando said the ice cream was more like custard. Each student spent time cranking the ice cream maker to mix the ingredients.

“It’s cool. It’s fun to turn the crank,” Travon Cribbs said. “It works out your upper body.”

“I’m just enjoying having the opportunity to make the finished product by turning it,” Shannon Szymanski said.

Once everything was blended together, the ice cream was placed in the freezer overnight for the students to enjoy the following day.

“I think it’s going to taste good,” Jackie Stapels said.

Deann Kujawski teaches the class and said the students organize their own events. Some students work out in the community, gaining valuable experience at stores, the district’s administration building and churches. In class, they also work on life skills in an effort to become more independent. The students recycle plastic bottles and cans to help fund class projects. The students can stay in the program until they are 26 years old.

“I’m grateful for this class,” said Szymanski, who added that she really enjoyed the visit from the fiddle player. “A lot of the songs brought back memories from when I was a kid.”

One activity that Stapels appreciated was discovering how corn husk dolls were made.

“I was so excited to know how it was going to look like,” she said.

As for the class in general, Stapels said, “I love it.”

“I love learning. I love my friends,” she said. “I love talking to everybody and giving them compliments. I like people to feel good.”