More than 70,000 tons of blue granite commanded wide-eyed fascination as Doby’s Bridge Elementary School third-graders visited the South Carolina State House reently to learn a bit of the Palmetto state’s history and see where the laws that impact their lives and communities are made.
Though the House of Representatives was not in session that day, Dist. 26 Rep. Raye Felder (R-Fort Mill) made the trip from Fort Mill to introduce herself and take pictures with the students. Doby’s Bridge teachers Savannah Copeland, Joanna Barney, Susan Glasheen, Erica Joefreda and Stephanie Hassen and their classes made the trip.
Throughout the year, all of Fort Mill school district’s third-graders visit the State House, Felder said, and she feels a responsibility to try to be there to meet them.
“Even though they’re under 18, they’re still my constituents,” Felder said. “It’s an enjoyable part of my job. Kids are so much fun.”
Felder showed students where she sits in the House chambers. The representatives sit at desks in pairs. “Rep. Ralph Norman and I sit next to each other – he is my desk mate,” she told the students.
Fort Mill town councilwoman Lisa McCarley accompanied her daughter, Sara Kate, on the field trip.
“Because of me being the politician, she’s been to town council meetings, but she’s not experienced the next level yet,” McCarley said, as Sara Kate gave Felder a hug.
“We have so many people that have moved to Fort Mill and don’t know our (South Carolina) history. We are a state very rich in our heritage and there is a lot to be proud of,” McCarley said.
Sara Kate said her favorite part of visiting the State House was “learning that there is a smaller dome inside the big dome,” – the dome on the inside is just for decoration and not visible from the outside, as well as the copper dome constructed with enough copper to make eight million pennies.
Student Stephen Schoenberger said the State House tour was “awesome” and he enjoyed learning about some of the historical paintings.
“It actually looks bigger from the inside than from the outside. Some of the paintings…the frames were really old,” he said.
Students learned of what the tour guide called South Carolina’s “independently spirited” history, as the first state to break from the union and fire shots at Fort Sumter to begin the Civil War. They learned of the nearly 50 years it took to complete the State House, following major Civil War setbacks. They learned the State House is fireproof and earthquake proof, outfitted with seismic isolators during its major renovation in the 1990s.
But perhaps more importantly for these students who have been studying S.C. history are the anecdotal lessons learned.
“It puts it in perspective for them,” said teacher Susan Glasheen.
Kelly Lessard: firstname.lastname@example.org, @KellyLessardFMT