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Exploring the Frontier: DPS Third Graders’ Journey into the Past

*The commencement of a teacher’s worst nightmare unfolds with over 300 third graders congregating from various elementary schools for a singular occasion. However, thanks to the efforts of ONE Duncan and numerous community volunteers, this event evolved into a platform for potential growth and learning, with students engaging in various activities that offered insights into life before statehood.

The annual Frontier Days event, spearheaded by ONE Duncan, gathers third graders from across Duncan to immerse themselves in the essence of Oklahoma in 1907.

Following their participation in a simulated land run, the children navigate through a makeshift tent town to acquire a land permit, engage in butter churning, gardening, square dancing, and more.

Missy Crimmins, the co-founder of ONE Duncan, recalled that the inaugural Frontier Days took place in 2017, emphasizing the organization’s mission to unite children from five elementary schools and broaden their perspective of being part of a larger ‘picture.’ She highlighted the significance of fostering relationships and forging bonds as a cohort before transitioning to middle school.

For Stacey Sage and her daughter Mayah, their first Frontier Day experience was filled with anticipation and eagerness for the day’s activities to unfold. Mayah’s excitement stemmed from dressing up as a cowgirl reminiscent of the “olden days,” showcasing her enthusiasm for traditional tasks like butter churning.

Stacey, who volunteered with Mayah’s class, expressed the importance of exposing children to historical experiences, enabling them to gain insights into the challenges faced by past generations. She eagerly anticipated the land run and square dancing activities, knowing that the children had been diligently preparing in their classrooms.

According to Crimmins, the success of Frontier Days hinges on the unwavering support of numerous volunteers and community members. Notable contributions include Jack Miller’s consistent provision of a chuck wagon, Legacy Bank’s donation of hot dogs, BancFirst’s supply of water, and the involvement of various organizations such as the Stephens County Extension office and New Hope Church.

Crimmins underscored the invaluable role played by older students from middle and high schools, citing their effectiveness in engaging and inspiring younger participants. Various groups, including DHS Leadership, DHS Career Pathways, DMS gifted and talented eighth graders, and DMS history club, actively contribute to the event’s success.

Beyond the surface level of making history enjoyable and facilitating student connections, Crimmins emphasized the deeper impact of showcasing adult interest and investment in the community’s youth. She highlighted the importance of instilling in children a sense of belonging to a larger community from a young age, fostering a mindset of mutual importance and responsibility that extends into their future roles as community members.