Quest for Knowledge of History

Greenfield Center School students research area to make public booklets


GREENFIELD — Greenfield Center School sixth-grader Ella Deters never realized the communities she lives, plays and goes to school in had such rich histories until she began doing research for the school’s most recent sixth- and seventhgrade project — a quest through six different areas that will be offered to the public before the end of fall.

A couple dozen Center School students will spend the next month completing their research on Green River Cemetery, downtown Greenfield, downtown Turners Falls, Sachem’s Head on Rocky Mountain, the Greenfield Energy Park and their school.

At the end of October, the students plan to have a quest booklet that will include maps of the six locations, as well as clues and riddles that will lead participants to six treasure boxes, one at each location. In the process, people on the quest will share in historical knowledge the students have learned.

The teachers leading the groups, Cara Parchesco, Chris Sanborn and Barbara Lockhart, said they hope everyone in Franklin County and the valley, as well as visitors to the area, will participate.

Sanborn said the idea of questing is not a new one.

“People have been doing this for years,” he said. “Our students just participated in one in Keene (N.H.).”

The questing project will be an outdoor treasure hunting game of hide and seek. At the end of each quest will be a box with a notebook and pen inside. Each participant will be expected to sign their name and any other information they wish to share, as well as the date of the quest.

But to get to the box, participants will have to follow clues and riddles to different locations at each site.

“We hope people leave items in the box — it could just be something small, like a button or something,” said Deters. “It will be fun to see what we’ve collected when it’s over.”

The teachers and students have not worked out all of the details of the quests and are not sure how long they will go on.

Deters and Nick Wisnieski have been assigned the Green River Cemetery.

“We’ve learned the history of a lot of the people buried there,” said Deters.

“It’s a place most people wouldn’t think to go, so we’re hoping that changes,” said Wisnieski.

Deters said people on their quest should bring a pen or pencil.

“There will be a laminated letter at each stop of our quest,” she said. “People will need to record each letter because all of them together will provide the clue to the final stop where they’ll find our box.”

Seventh-grader Claudia Danford said clues will be given in a similar way at the Energy Park.

“People will learn the history of transportation and energy use as they move through our quest,” said Danford. “They’ll also learn about the plants in the gardens there.”

Sophie Hathaway’s group is studying the history of different landmarks throughout downtown Greenfield.

“People will be able to stop and read something about each of our locations and we’ll have lots of riddles and clues for them,” said Hathaway. “It’s been fun because we’ve learned a lot and gotten to talk to a lot of different people.”

Rabeya Alam is working with the group creating a quest at the Center School.

“People will get to know our campus, learn some of its history and learn about who the buildings are named after,” said Alam. “We’re pretty excited to share that information.”

Isabella Deherdt’s group is creating a quest for downtown Turners Falls and Juilian Burgoff’s group for Sachem’s Head. “We did a lot of brainstorming to come up with these places,” said Deherdt. “We’ve learned a lot in the process.”

Burgoff said there are a lot of “really cool, really old geological spots on Sachem’s Head.”

“There are some cool columns of lava flows up there,” said Burgoff. “There are also signs that there was an earthquake there.”

Parchesco said the school will keep the public informed. She said hard copies of the quest booklet will eventually be available at the school and the Greenfield Public Library.

The booklets will also be available online at:

Greenfield Center School is a progressive, independent day school for students in kindergarten through Grade 8. The school integrates social and academic learning.

Copyright ©  2018 The Center School