The goal of the Trail Stewards program is to empower local communities to become the caretakers of the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail—anyone can be involved! Being a Steward along this multi-state trail can mean many things, from participating in a clean-up of a local historic park or stream, to creating audio or video tours of your neighborhood’s Star-Spangled history for others to use to explore long-ago events.

Living Classrooms and the National Park Service, which manage the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail, partner with schools in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C. to engage students in diverse Trail Steward programs. Here are just a few examples of projects that local schools have completed!

Maree Garnet Farring Elem./Middle School

First, our classes learned about Maryland’s role in the War of 1812 from their textbook, Maryland Adventure. Students learned about the various important battles in Maryland and Washington, DC, like The Battle of Bladensburg, the Burning of Washington, and The Battle of Baltimore.  Key people in the war were also highlighted, like Francis Scott Key.  We followed that lesson with a two-day lesson about Indian Resettlement and the War of 1812.  This lesson taught students how and to where Native Americans were forced to live.  They also learned how they fought for both sides of the war. The next lesson was focused on the causes of the war. Students were engaged in various vocabulary activities and mini lessons to strengthen their background understanding of the many terms.  The primary sources were examined using the close reading strategy with the students, which was differentiated by students’ reading levels. Prior to our maritime voyage, we started the Patriot or Pirate lesson, to take a close look at primary sources from the captain of the Chasseur, a schooner during the War of 1812. We finished the second half of that lesson after the sail, reasoning that the students would be able to relate to a privateer’s experience because they had been on a similar boat. After each of the three classes had participated in the maritime trip, we concluded the lessons with a look at the many changes that occurred in Maryland post-War of 1812.  As the final project, students made nine posters covering various key events and key people from the War of 1812. Students were placed into 9 groups of 8 or 9 to complete the research of the printed materials from online.  They decided what should go on their respective posters and organized the materials for display.  This took each class about two class periods of 75 minutes to complete the posters. During the 4th Grade Promotion ceremony on June 14, 2018, the posters were displayed for all the parents and community to see. Mrs. Ambush-Hall gave a brief speech explaining the project and how the students’ involvement will help others to learn about the Star-Spangled Banner National Trail and their local communities’ history.  Students were available to talk about their posters and answer questions.

Langdon Education Campus

The fifth-grade scholars at Langdon Education Campus wanted to express their interpretation of the War of 1812 through visualization without boundaries. Students took into consideration all aspects of the war, from the outcome to the lasting effect it has had on our country as we know it today. They chose to create a colorful “Graffiti Wall Banner” focused on the Battle of Baltimore, so that others could experience the battle and the victory through their eyes. They attached their individual pieces together to create their very own “Banner.” The banner was then hung for their school community to see.

Federal Hill Preparatory School

Our fifth graders created a stop-motion video using clay (Claymation).  They chose to focus on the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner by re-enacting the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812.  The students first took part in a Maritime Voyage aboard the Lady Maryland. They also researched the War of 1812 and the integral role Fort McHenry played in the Battle of Baltimore in September 1814. Students designed a backdrop set and used paint to depict the background of Fort McHenry.  They then created clay figures for each scene, filmed movement by movement, uploaded all 1,000 images into a Stop Motion app, and finally added voiceover.  The main project (before voiceover) was displayed during our Celebration of Learning to all families and students that visited. The end product was shared on our Edmodo page for all fourth and fifth grade students and their families to enjoy.

Lafayette Elementary School

After attending the program aboard the Mildred Belle on May 23rd, special education students at Lafayette wanted to put the writing skills they learned in the classroom to work to describe their day and what they learned on board. Each student used a graphic organizer and an outline to come up with their best work. The students wrote about what they learned throughout the entire program, including learning in the classroom as well as during the shipboard program. They shared this writing and what they had learned with their classmates in the general education classrooms.

Urban Adventure Squad, Washington D.C.

During their “Squad on Stage” week, Urban Adventure Squad (UAS) campers visited many relevant DC sights and explored several elements of the War of 1812. Campers learned about the life of citizens, soldiers, slaves, and privateers during the war, hiked on the Valley Trail in Rock Creek Park, explored where the Blagden family lived and the ruins of their mills from the early 1800s, and visited the Octagon House where the Madisons resided after the burning of the White House. Based on these lessons, students chose characters (some real, some based on a combination of people they learned about) and created posters describing their characters. This week-long program culminated with a “Squad Squeeze,” where Squad campers shared their costuming, prop-making, and acting chops with the Squad community. Squad campers presented their characters and the Squad community played a guessing game to figure out who everyone was. Everyone also enjoyed some Squad-made treats based on what Dolley Madison served at her squeezes–chocolate pudding and a “fairy butter” inspired cheesecake using orange blossom water. The Squad Squeeze, as well as social media posts and the e-newsletter UAS Update, were shared with the wider Squad community to communicate the campers’ experience along the trail.

MacFarland Middle School

We used several different classroom lessons to preface the project. In the first lesson, students came to understand key waterways surrounding DC along with waterways in the Chesapeake Bay. Then students analyzed the first verse of the Star-Spangled Banner and came to understand the context in which it was written. After that, students analyzed the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail Map to deepen their geographic understanding. In the second lesson, students were given a modern connection to the War of 1812, making this historical period more relevant to their lives. The remainder of the second lesson was a series of tasks involving timelines, which allowed students to have an accurate historical understanding of the War of 1812. In order to promote the Star-Spangled Banner trail, both students and teachers promoted the trail through social media outlets. Using the maritime voyage as a backdrop, students created and shared posts on various social media outlets (including Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook) with the intention of bringing more awareness to the Trail and the local geographic ties to the War of 1812.

Federal Hill Preparatory School

Our fifth graders created a stop-motion video using claymation. They chose to focus on the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner by re-enacting the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812.  The students first took part in a Maritime Voyage aboard the Lady Maryland. They also researched the War of 1812 and the integral role Fort McHenry played in the Battle of Baltimore in September 1814. Students designed a backdrop set and used paint to depict the background of Fort McHenry.  They then created clay figures for each scene, filmed movement by movement, uploaded all 1,000 images into a Stop Motion app, and finally added voiceover.  The main project (before voiceover) was displayed during our Celebration of Learning to all families and students that visited. The end product was shared on our Edmodo page for all fourth and fifth grade students and their families to enjoy.