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Pittsburg Seniors tour the Ft. Smith National Historic Site and Museum and the Ft. Smith Escape Room

9/6/2017

WILBURTON, OK (Sept. 6, 2017) – Pittsburg GEAR UP students recently toured the Ft. Smith National Historic Site & Museum.

Students were greeted by Museum Education Coordinator and National Park Ranger Cody Faber. Faber explained the history of Ft. Smith as being used by the US Army during the trade agreements and the movement of Native American tribes. The fort was used as a trade commissary during the time because of the Arkansas River. Later, the fort was used to assist with treaty negotiations with the Native Americans. It was commonly used during what we know as the “Trail of Tears” movement, 1831-1845. Pittsburg students watched a short film on the history of Ft. Smith, and then toured the Museum and the grounds of the park.

The history of the Fort Smith area abounds with tales of heroism, battles, and social justice. Students walked where soldiers drilled, reflected along the Trail of Tears overlook, and stood where justice was served and carried out. There were many individuals who made history at Fort Smith, and their actions and attitudes can serve both as inspiration and lessons learned. The Fort Smith National Historic Site includes the remains of two frontier forts and the Federal Court for the Western District of Arkansas. Judge Isaac C. Parker, known as the "hangin' judge," presided over the court for 21 years.

Pittsburg senior Mandi Barron said, “I really enjoyed reading about the outlaws and seeing the actual jail and jail cells.”

At the completion of the tour, the students toured the gift shop and returned to the bus and were treated to a lunch at Fuji Steakhouse. The students then arrived at the Ft. Smith Escape Room for a team building exercise.

Students were housed in the “Boathouse” room. They had 60 minutes to decipher all of the clues to escape from the room. There were several types of science navigation tools that the students had to learn before they could proceed. The experience was a positive experience as the students and chaperones were able to escape with 34 seconds left.

Pittsburg School Nurse Courtney King said, “The tools, math and science were harder than what I expected. This really was a great learning experience for the students. I was surprised that they had to use a compass and protractor for angles to receive some of the clues.”

“The trip was educational, exciting and fun, “ added GEAR UP Education Coordinator Natalie Kennedy. “I enjoyed seeing the students in the museum reading about the outlaws and the joy of seeing their faces when they figured out a clue.”

The field trip was sponsored by Eastern Oklahoma State College GEAR UP. Participating schools take two field trips each academic year—one to tour a college or university and one that is cultural/educational in nature.


Pittsburg GEAR UP students pose in front of the Fort Smith National Historic Site sign. Pictured are: Anthony Shields, Mandi Barron, GEAR UP Education Coordinator Natalie Kennedy and Tarryn Ward.


Pittsburg GEAR UP students check out the courtroom where Judge Isaac C. Parker, known as the “hangin’ judge” presided for 21 years. Pictured are Tarryn Ward, Mandi Barron and Anthony Shields.


Pittsburg seniors Mandi Barron (top bunk) and Tarryn Ward (bottom bunk) inside the jail in the basement of the federal courthouse.


Pittsburg seniors and sponsors celebrate escaping from the “Boathouse” at the Ft. Smith Escape Room Pictured are: Front row: GEAR UP Education Coordinator Natalie Kennedy, Mandi Barron and Anthony Shield. Back row: Tarryn Ward and Pittsburg School Nurse Courtney King.


“We conquered the “Boathouse” at the Ft. Smith Escape Room! Pictured are: GEAR UP Education Coordinator Natalie Kennedy, Anthony Shields, Tarryn Ward, Pittsburg School Nurse Courtney King and Mandi Barron.

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