With the wave of a flag, dozens of second graders made a mad dash to stake their claim of land at Charles Evans Elementary on Friday.
The students participated in the first Charles Evans Elementary Land Run, reflecting the act some of their ancestors may have participated in 128 years ago on April 22, 1889. The students had a day dedicated to the “reenactment” of the famous Oklahoma Land Run.
“They had been learning lessons on the Oklahoma Land Run, leading up to it,” Denise Brunk, Charles Evans Elementary principal, said. “This is our first time doing it at Charles Evans.”
While in 1889 the soon-to-be settlers were racing to claim their share of 2 million acres of free land, the students raced to claim a piece of field near the elementary school. The students wasted no time pulling makeshift wagons to what they felt was the perfect piece of land to start their new lives on the prairie.
The students and teachers involved dressed the part, wearing dresses and attire fit for the late 1880s. Activities like butter making, making yarn balls and tossing washers filled the time before and after the run, giving the students the full land run experience.
The students were split into “families” and had to wait for the signal of a flag wave before they could start their search. Once they had identified the perfect spot, the students sectioned off the area using string and stakes. To complete the process, land deeds were filled out to make the land claim official.
Unlike the actual land run, all of the Charles Evans participants followed the rules.
“They all waited for the flag so there were no sooners,” Brunk laughed. Many individuals hid in the unclaimed area in 1889 prior to the gun shot signaling the beginning of the run. The literal jumping of the gun led to the term “sooner” being coined for those that left the starting line early.
Brunk said the land run experience provides an educational capstone to the lessons the class has been learning through social studies class. Participating and living the land run provides context that a textbook can’t define, something Brunk said only enhances the learning experience.
With the success of the first land run at the school, Brunk said the school hopes to include more students in the educational experience in the future.
“We’re hoping to expand it to include more grades,” Brunk said of the successful event, noting only the second grade took part in the event this year. “They had a blast.”