Now, don't get the wrong idea about Matt, me, Len and Jo, and us doing schoolwork over the summer. This was a fun assignment and I learned a lot. Mr. Brady isn't like other teachers; his assignments are pretty cool.
Mr. Brady gave us a task over the summer and it wasn't easy to find what he was asking for. I actually had to use brain cells I didn't know I had. Go figure! Today's trip, which was Matt's birthday, wasn't really classwork but it was a start to exploring the states. The train trip was actually a scavenger hunt, finding items and clues that led us to Mount Rushmore. It was an awesome experience and I'm sure it will be the talk of the town for the rest of the summer.
For the actual work, we don't get to board a train or a plane nor do we get to travel by car or bus. Nope, this time, we have to use our imaginations and come up with a report for each state that we have to find from all the clues in the packets Mr. Brady sends us.
It was pretty strange walking into the house and finding an envelope addressed to me. Mom made sure I didn't miss it, but I've got to tell you, I don't get mail so this was a bit weird for me. I picked up the envelope and read the label:
- Mr. Guy Landrum
123 West Brook Street
Creighton, SD 57790
Yes siree, it was definitely my name on this package and all I could make out from the return address was that it was from the school. I hadn't failed any classes and wasn't supposed to be in summer school. I hadn't enrolled to be in any school activities for the summer. I wasn't in the marching band. Usually anything from the school addressed directly to a student was bad news. I was tired and really didn't want to open it but Mom insisted.
"That envelope has been driving me crazy all day, while you have been on your fun trip. Go on, open it. Let's see what kind of trouble you are in now," she said
She didn't leave me any choice; I had to tear into the official school material to find out what was inside.
I pulled the folded papers from the envelope and read what I thought would be bad news. It was actually not as bad as I had imagined. The first page was a letter from Mr. Brady.
"Well, come on now, tell me what it says," Mother prodded.
"Okay, it's really nothing bad. I'm not in trouble or anything. Mr. Brady wants us to do some work over the summer to get a jump on the upcoming school year when we have to take his social studies class."
"Okay, so what does it say?"
Dear Guy, Matt, Jolene, and Leonard:
You are about to embark on the adventure of the school year. You will be traveling, in your imaginations, throughout the United States, using the clues I have provided. Each packet will lead you to the state and two landmarks. Some will also include a specific destination or town. You will work as a team over the summer and in the upcoming school year. The winning team each week will be awarded a prize.
You will have to write an essay on your findings and present them to the class when school starts. You will do this for the next ten weeks and once school starts, we will continue the adventure in a different format. Your social studies grade for the year will be based primarily on your work for the fifty states. I hope you enjoy this little game.
Social Studies Teacher
Creighton Middle School
I tucked the papers back into the envelope and headed for bed, leaving Mom standing in the hall wanting to know more. I would worry about calling Matt in the morning. This meant more time with Jolene, what a summer this was going to be. Believe it or not, I was excited when I turned in for the night.
After lunch with Grandma the next day, I called Matt but could barely get a word in edgewise.
"Yeah, dude," he said. "How about we meet at the town library about nine o'clock in the morning and the four of us just jump in there and start this project. Who knows, maybe we can knock it out and free up the rest of the week."
"What do you have against sleeping in some?" I asked him.
"Man, I got other things to do in the evenings. I can't waste my whole day waiting for you to get out of bed. So, nine o'clock at the library. See you there. Okay?"
"Yeah, sure, nine o'clock." I grumbled, hanging up the phone.
I was the last to arrive because I had overslept. As I was locking my bike up in the rack, I got the feeling I was being overtaken. I looked up and there stood Jo, Len, Matt and Mary Beth, who always tags along wherever Matt goes. I'm sure Matt's mother had something to do with this though. "Yeah, I'm late. That's nothing new. You all know me by now and you know I'm rarely on time."
"Well, listen, the library closes for lunch at one, so we need to get started and accomplish as much as we can before then," Jo stated in her bossy voice.
"Okay, let's go." I shot back at her.
Mary Beth went over to the mystery section and found a book to read while we were on the computer, sitting far enough away to not be in our way but close enough to hear our discussions. After the librarian logged us on to one of the available computers, we sat down and read the information Mr. Brady had sent us. Here's what it said:
As this is the first state, I will give you all the clues and information you need. Your job is to figure out the state and the two landmarks. In addition, you will also need to find a particular destination from the clues given. The clues are as follows:
1) The second oldest city in the nation is located in this state.
2) Five other states share a border with this state.
3) This state is named after a British King.
4) The Girl Scouts were founded in this state in nineteen hundred and twelve.
1) Paradise Gardens, an eccentric "art house", built by Howard Finster, defies description, convention and gravity.
2) Oliver Hardy, half of the famous Laurel and Hardy vaudeville act, was born in this state.
1) Billed as the biggest swamp in North America, this natural wonder can be navigated by canoe or boat tour, or you can get directions for driving at the visitors' center in Folkston.
2) Take a train or ride a skylift to see the largest high-relief sculpture in the world, the Confederate Memorial Carving depicting Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. Entertainment and shopping options abound at the 3,200-acre park.
1) The first gold rush was actually in this town, occurring around eighteen hundred and twenty eight.
2) The original name of this town was Licklog.
3) One of the United States first gold mints was in this town.
4) This town has evidence of inhabitation prior to the Cherokee, believed to have been somewhere around 1000 b.c.
5) This town is holding its third annual literary festival in February, on the weekend closest to President's weekend.
Jo took the initiative, even though Len was more of a computer geek than the rest of us. She typed in some keywords and the search was on. Jo must have used ten or fifteen different combinations to figure out the state, but we finally came up with it.
"Come on, Jo," Len prodded. "I can move faster than this."
"Yeah, but I'm used to doing this. I've done a lot of research."
"So? I'm the computer expert," Len stated.
"Go ahead if you think you can find anything faster. I'm pretty quick and know what I'm doing."
Len pushed Jo out of the seat and starting putting in what he could. He didn't have any luck finding any answers. Jo just umphed him and moved him out of the way so she could continue her Internet search. She Googled Girl Scouts and found out they were started by Juliette Low. The movement had been started based on the guidelines of the Boy Scouts but Juliette Gordon Low started it in America in one of the most famous cities in the state.
Matt not wanting to be outdone put his two cents worth in. "You guys, listen. I say we just find the destination. We already know the state. We can find the landmarks later. Don't you all think so?"
"Well, actually no." Jo answered. "I think we need to find the landmarks before we get to the destination. It would be pretty easy to get to the town with these clues but why not just find everything in order - the state, the landmarks and then the town?"
"I have other things to do today, so I'd like to be out of here before lunch if we can," Matt informed us.
"Well personally, I don't care what we do. I think we just need to get this done so I can go home and sleep some more." I added.
"Like you didn't sleep enough as it is. You were the last one here, Guy. Surely a few hours of your time isn't going to kill you." Len shot me a strange look.
Jo kept on searching, trying to ignore us. The computer timer had to be reset while we were looking up the landmarks. The librarian kindly re-signed us on and went back to shelving the new stock of books.
"Okay guys, I think I have come up with one of the landmarks," Jo said.
"Yeah, which one?" I asked.
"Well, part of the clue is that this is a swamp and I'm coming up with only swamp that is mentioned online. I put in the state name plus swamps and came up with this." Jo showed us the link she found.
"Then, I'd say we found one landmark. I always thought that was a made up place," I said.
"Well, now we know it's not a made up place," Matt chimed in.
"Yeah, you know how someone always tries to pull the wool over your eyes and tells you they have some land in this swamp to sell you. I thought it was either a made up swamp or in another state for some reason."
"Okay, one landmark down. Let's move on to the next one so we can find the town and get out of here." Matt said.
Jo typed in some more trying to find the second landmark.
"Jo, look up theme parks in the state and see if that doesn't lead us to the landmark," Len told her.
Jo typed in state theme parks and there it was, the listing of all the theme parks in the state. We moved on to finding the town. The easiest place to find, a town in the state considered to be the first "gold rush" center and housing one of the nation's first mints.
So where did we end up?
Clues leading to the state should lead you to Georgia. The landmarks are a little more difficult unless you are familiar with them but they are The Okefenokee Swamp and Stone Mountain. Our destination town ended up being Dahlonega.