Wendy Allen and her husband were amazed by the number of historical monuments in Norwalk that they've driven by repeatedly and never noticed in the 10 years they have lived in the city.
They recently got a history lesson when their daughter, Astrid, participated in a Scavenger Hunt of Norwalk History for her eighth-grade history class at Roton Middle School.
"I thought this was a wonderful project," Allen said. "Astrid was so excited about this assignment that she borrowed period-style clothing from my parents and actually dressed up. Going around town it was fun to watch people watch her and her friends exploring the various monuments and pose for photos."
For the project, students explore historic landmarks and monuments in the city that pertain to the founding of Norwalk and to the Burning of Norwalk during the American Revolution. Afterward, the students have to answer questions about the monuments.
"They have to visit the sites and have parents take an interactive `living history' picture of them playing a role, such as the role of a patriot at Calf Pasture Beach, spotting the 70 British ships approaching," Vaccaro said via email. "What is especially important about this is that parents learn about Norwalk history right along with their kids.
"So many parents tell me that they have lived here their whole lives and have driven by these landmarks and markers forever without ever knowing of their existence or relevance. So many Norwalkers do not much about the great history of this city."
The required sites for the living history project are the Roger Ludlow Monument in East Norwalk, the founding of Norwalk sign on Wall Street near Mill Hill Historic Park, the "British Invasion" placard at Calf Pasture, the Grumman's Hill Daughters of the American Revolution monument in front of the Norwalk Inn, and the Battle of the Rocks DAR monument near West Rocks Road.
Extra-credit sites include the British Cannonball and Flax Hill Monument on Hillside Place behind former Ben Franklin School, the Founding of Norwalk DAR Monument next to the East Norwalk train station, and the mural of Roger Ludlow and Chief Mahackemo in City Hall.
"Most students do these extra-credit sites," Vaccaro said. "They are amazed that there is an actual British Cannonball in South Norwalk, that the British fired up into the hills of Flax Hill during the Revolution."
Astrid visited the extra-credit sites with her friends and parents.
"I thought it was really awesome," she said. "I got together with two of my friends and went around town. We ended up learning a lot, but it was really fun, too.
"We've all been to Mill Hill Historic Park as kids, but I didn't know there were so many historical monuments around the city. I was really surprised.
"I had no idea how much history Norwalk had. It was really cool to learn about all that."