#1StudentNWI: Chesterton High School hosts Civil War camp

#1StudentNWI: Chesterton High School hosts Civil War camp

What's recently happened?

Chesterton High School (CHS) history teachers Robert DeRuntz and Anna Zervos hosted the annual Civil War camp this month. The school’s courtyard mimicked the humble setting of a traditional Civil War camp. Over the course of two days, students from all United States History classes came to a recreation of a Civil War camp from 1862. Tents stood in the grass with objects unique to the time period strewn across the cloth.

Both DeRuntz and Zervos teach United States history classes at CHS and helped bring a piece of textbook history to life. Dressed in historically accurate Civil War soldier attire, DeRuntz responsibly demonstrated the working of a Civil War era replica black powder musket to students, as well as delving into character in order to anchor his audience into the happenings of the Civil War. Students were metaphorically drafted into the War in order to combine personalized storytelling and history lessons as a distinctive learning environment.

One chosen student from the group of United States History classes stood before the group to exhibit each article of clothing and accessories a Civil War soldier had to do. The selected student displayed each item as DeRuntz shared its usage with the classes. Every piece of the ensemble held a specific historical significance. By expressing the significance of the clothing, students were allowed to grasp the commonalities and purposes of items and necessities that have developed over time.

As students came to sit on arranged hay bales, Zervos cooked traditional salted pork over a fire. Students were served bean soup in sample cups, and baskets of hardtack and salted cubes of pork. As the baskets of food were served, Zervos described the foods soldiers ate during the Civil War, in addition to sharing the severity of medical procedures during this time period.

With a mannequin laying on a table, Zervos explained the steps in which a nurse would have to follow through in order to adequately perform an amputation in a Civil War camp.

To conclude the interactive performance, DeRuntz recited the Gettysburg Address- leaving a hushed crowd to erupt in applause.

What's Coming Up?

Every year, Chesterton High School’s Student Government hosts Hall-o-ween; an event where extra-curricular clubs can set up tables in the school hallways for people to trick-or-treat.

This year’s Hall-o-ween will take place inside Chesterton High School on October 27 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Chesterton High School's Hall-o-ween offers a secure location for children to trick-or-treat in. Each club will have a specific theme where the members dress up in regard to their respective theme.

Student Government has orchestrated this autumnal gathering for over five years. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Hall-o-ween was altered to be a trunk-or-treat in Chesterton High School's parking lot.

In the past, one hallway within the school has been decorated to appear haunted. Popcorn has also been sold in the past when the event has been assembled.

Those from the community are encouraged to wander the halls, finding different clubs to trick-or-treat from. Staff and students are also welcome to the affair.

Staff spotlight

Robert DeRuntz has taught history at Chesterton High School for the past 28 years. Having earned a history degree from Ball State in 1995, DeRuntz has only ever taught history at CHS. DeRuntz approaches his history classes with a remarkable technique- one of making his lessons into stories so that the material is something tangible and memorable for students.

“I started teaching history and geography and ultimately went to U.S. History and world history. I love it; I truly love it. When I was a little boy my dad had all kinds of history books, so I grew up looking at the maps and looking at the pictures and then got old enough to read them. I’ve always loved history and when I got my degree to be a history teacher, I knew I wanted to be the kind of teacher that made every effort to bring the stories to life,” DeRuntz said.

Trailbound, an annual summer trip hosted by CHS’s social studies department, allows for students to camp and study history first-hand at historical and geographical sites within the United States. Over the summer, Trailbound allowed for students to travel to the Adirondack Mountains, as well as see Niagara Falls and the state of New York.

Students studied the French and Indian War during the trip.

"I truly see Trailbound as one of my greatest, not just professional, but even personal blessings in my life because I have traveled this country for 23 years and every summer a different part of the country. We've studied on-sight whatever historical topic we have," DeRuntz said.

DeRuntz has also been noticed as the Staff Member of the Year (2019), Secondary Teacher of Duneland School Corporation (2020), and Top 10 Finalists for Indiana Teacher of the Year (2021). Believing in the value of education has certainly characterized DeRuntz’s dedication to the community and students. His love of teaching is a core tenant of the enriching culture at CHS.

"I honestly think that if I were to leave Chesterton today and go to any other school, I would never be able to do the types of things I've been so fortunate to do here," DeRuntz said.

Student spotlight

Sophomore Logan Arthur partakes in an array of school clubs and extracurricular activities at CHS. Arthur is an active member of the German Club, Spell Bowl, tennis, orchestra, and CHS’ fall musical, "Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat."

“I think CHS is really good because it offers so many clubs and so many varieties of stuff," Arthur said. "You don’t just have to come to school and leave, you can do other stuff and you don’t even have to stay at school, you can do internships."

Each school year, CHS holds a fall musical, winter play, and spring play. Having participated in theater during his freshman year, Arthur has developed an admiration for acting.

“I really hope to do more of the plays because I really love acting," said Arthur.

Arthur aims to join the show choir during one of his years in high school. In addition to being musically inclined, he also participates in tennis.

“It does take a little bit of time. I do have to study a bit more out of school and have some later nights, but I do it because it’s fun,” said Arthur.