Students make Rocky Woods pilgrimage

Wheelock Elementary School third graders fish at Rocky Woods Reservation, wrapping up their unit on Pilgrim America. Photos by Robby McKittrick

By Robby McKittrick
Hometown Weekly Reporter

On Tuesday, October 30, Rocky Woods Reservation hosted the third graders of Wheelock Elementary School for an annual pilgrimage.

One third grade class full of parents, kids, volunteers, and teachers visited the reservation to celebrate the culmination of the class’ Pilgrim unit. The kids and teachers dressed up in authentic period clothing, performed a variety of tasks ranging from archery to hiking and fishing, and ate beef stew, corn bread, apple sauce, and home-grown vegetables.

The kids arrived at around 9 a.m. and left around 2:30 p.m. There were three different third grade classes that visited Rocky Woods Reservation throughout the week, one class each day.

Photos by Robby McKittrick

Photos by Robby McKittrick

The program has lasted for around 30 years, and it is special for the members of the community.

“It’s something they have been doing for a very long time in Medfield,” said one mother, Caroline Breslin. “It’s an exciting day where the kids get to go out and have a hands on experience … It’s just a great day for the kids.”

Breslin has a sixth grade son who participated in the event a few years ago and a current third grader who was at the reservation on Tuesday.

“He loves it,” Breslin said. “He has a hard time in school sitting still, so this is a perfect day for him to be outdoors and doing physical activity and working with his hands.”

All of the children were wearing Pilgrim garb and eagerly participating in the various activities.

“[My son] was really captivated by the storytelling and the costumes, and just bringing themselves back into that period of time,” said another mother, Sonia Cunningham. “All of the activities are so well done.”

Photos by Robby McKittrick

Photos by Robby McKittrick

“It’s one of the most memorable events for both parents and kids,” added Cunningham. “I have a seventh grader and he remembers almost every detail of the day. It’s outside of the classroom, which is always a hit.”

Wheelock Elementary School third grade teacher Nicole Sheehan has worked at the event for 23 years. Not only has she taught at the event for her whole teaching tenure, but she also visited Rocky Woods Reservation for the program when she was a third grader.

“This is the one thing that I don’t think we will ever stop doing because it’s just such a huge event,” explained Sheehan. “It’s one of those great memories that kids have. When they graduate from high school, they always talk about third grade, dressing up like Pilgrims, so it’s really special.”

The overall purpose of the day is to celebrate the end of the unit on Pilgrim America and provide the students a special educational experience.

“It’s a culminating activity,” Sheehan said. “We wrap up [the unit] at this time of the year, so it’s an opportunity to celebrate everything that they learned about the Pilgrims.”

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