September 2, 2014

School staff members don kilts as history lives

SSMS welcomes 1700’s reenactors

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A reenactor speaks to students.
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A battle ensues during the reenactment at Standish-Sterling Middle School.
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By Tim Barnum|Staff writer
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STANDISH — Cannons and muskets will fire, people will sleep in tents, cook over open fires and do battle with one another when a reenactment highlighting the U.S. in the 1700’s takes over the Standish-Sterling Middle School (SSMS) May 29-31.

“Our fifth grade and eighth grade and ninth grade social studies, it covers that to the book,” said Sterling Elementary fourth grade teacher and reenactor, Jeff Katt. “Basically, from 1740 through the 1770’s, and we have a big emphasis on the French-Indian War.

“Last year we had 157 reenactors.”

Katt, who has been acting as a private in Lord Murray’s Company the 42nd Royal Highland Regiment, an actual unit in the historical Scottish military, says he got involved with reenactments to enhance his teaching.

“I got into it to actually help my history a little and make my class better,” he said.

Katt isn’t the only person working in the district who will be donning some authentic Scottish apparel, though.

“I’ve been doing it (reenacting) for over 25 years,” said Standish-Sterling Elementary Counselor Dan Chapman. “I’ve always been interested in history and I used to shoot muzzle loaders competitively and wore historical garb for that.

“But it wasn’t as much fun doing that after I got married,” he added, saying his wife began accompanying him to the events, but wasn’t having much fun. “It (muzzle loader competitive shooting) is very boring.”

Now, Chapman says both his wife and daughter accompany him in reenactments.

“We travel all over. We do Fort Michilimackinac, we do River of Time in Bay City,” he said. “If you’ve got the funds and stamina, you could do this every weekend.”

Chapman portrays Sergeant Major Colin McPherson of the Royal Highland Regiment, an actual individual in an authentic regiment.

According to Katt, this is the fifth year the reenactment will be held at SSMS and will go down no matter what the weather is like.

“We’re still out there in our tents and laying on the ground, rain or shine,” he said. “The show does not stop.

“We do cooking demonstrations, Native (American) demonstrations. There’ll be spinning and weaving demonstrations and a battle demonstration.”

On May 29, the reenactment will be reserved for middle school students, but Katt says the next two days, the general public can attend the reenactment from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. free of charge – the same way the reenactors work.

“They do it for free,” he said. “They do this because they have a love of history and they love to tell people about our country’s past.”

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