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A week spent digging into New Windsor's past

From left: Sam Kinloch, Parker Beatty, New Windsor Middle School teacher Lisa Macurak and Rachel Palmer look for artifacts in marked grids near the New Windsor Sulphur Springhouse during Dig Week 2013.
From left: Sam Kinloch, Parker Beatty, New Windsor Middle School teacher Lisa Macurak and Rachel Palmer look for artifacts in marked grids near the New Windsor Sulphur Springhouse during Dig Week 2013. (Sharon Burleson Schuster photo , Carroll County Times)

Incoming and outgoing New Windsor Middle School students participated in Dig Week 2013, July 22-26, at the New Windsor Sulphur Springhouse.

"It's an opportunity for kids to meet new people, play in the mud, get an appreciation for local history and show how they positively impact their local community," said New Windsor Middle School social studies teacher Lisa Macurak.

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For the past six years, Macurak has led students in an archaeological dig project at the historic springhouse, which is maintained by the New Windsor Heritage Committee.

"We're digging up old artifacts that we think people left there," said Rachel Palmer, a New Windsor Middle School incoming seventh-grader. "It was an old bathhouse," she said of the small brick structure that stands along Water Street and Greer Lane near the former home of the town's founder, Isaac Atlee.

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Armed with heavy-duty dishwashing gloves, rubber boots, shovels, sieves, buckets and spades, students diverted water from the marked grid area near the spring, dug in the mud, sifted through mud and dirt, and labeled their findings to be catalogued later.

Among the finds during Dig Week 2013 were a piece of a horse bridle, two ceramic doll legs, clay marbles, a buckle, a small wheel, pottery shards and more.

"The thing that we find the most is glass," said Hunter Barnes, who is going into the seventh grade at New Windsor Middle School.

Parker Beatty, an incoming sixth-grader, said he found what he thought people "would have had at a bathhouse ... bottles of soap and maybe little contraptions."

Macurak and some of her students presented a program about the ongoing archaeological dig July 9 at a Historical Society of Carroll County Box Lunch Talk. "Rachel [Palmer] and I talked about the dig itself," said Amber Legore, who will be entering eighth grade.

"Each child took one topic - artifacts, history, cataloguing, troubleshooting, the student experience - and one student dressed up as Isaac Atlee," said Macurak.

During Dig Week 2013, Macurak said students from Mechanicsville Elementary and West Middle schools joined in. Among other visitors to the site were Carroll County Public Schools Director of Middle Schools Tom Hill, Supervisor of Social Studies for Carroll County Public Schools Beth Brown, New Windsor Middle School Assistant Principal Janel Fosnot and school guidance counselor Rachel Hiner.

Interest in the project came in the form of donations and inquiries from "a number of people who attended the Box Lunch Talk," said Macurak. People also followed the progress of Dig Week 2013 on Facebook with 43 to 233 daily visitors to the posts at New Windsor Heritage.

Rachel Gast, a pediatrician from Randallstown, encountered the dig in progress while she was pursuing the geocaching trail in Carroll County. After students gave her a brief history of the current project under way, she said, "So, you all want to be archaeologists now ... that's fun."

Students involved in the project for the first time or who return for a repeat adventure say it's fun and interesting to participate in a real archaeological dig.

Ken and Jody Amos, parents of student participant Shannon Amos, watched the process on July 26. "To be able to find history and become a part of something within society itself makes it more interesting to learn about history - when they can be a part of it," said Jody Amos.

"She'll be back for more of this," Ken Amos said of his daughter, an incoming sixth-grader at New Windsor Middle School.

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Some students said the dig is better than staying inside and watching TV. Others said the activity gave them the unique opportunity to meet their teacher before school starts. Whatever they are taking away from the experience, they are giving back, as well. "The time that we're giving is the best gift we can give to our community," said Macurak.

The next scheduled digs are from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 17 and 9 a.m. to noon Aug. 24. For more information, call 410-259-0853.

Some artifacts found at the dig site are on display at the New Windsor Museum, 207 Main St.

Go to newwindsorheritage.org for information about the New Windsor Heritage Committee. Visit New Windsor Heritage on Facebook for photographs and comments posted about Dig Week 2013.

Serving preschoolers
The Union Bridge Early Learning Center, which has served preschool children in the area for approximately 30 years, has openings for the coming year.
Enrichment programs for 3- and 4-year-olds run September through May. Activities promote socilaization, reading readiness, math readiness, science, social studies, health, art, music and physical education.
The preschool program helps children to develop a foundation for lifelong learning under the direction of certified educator Martha Domer.
The program for 3-year-olds is held on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 9 to 11:30 a.m. The cost is $105 per month.
The program for 4-year-olds is held on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 9 to 11:30 a.m. The cost is $130 per month.
Children who attended the program for 3-year-olds and are returning for the program for 4-year-olds receive a $20 reduced fee.
The center is at Union Bridge Church of the Brethren, 124 S. Main St., Union Bridge.
For more details, call 410-775-2717.

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