The sound of young voices recently filled the often silent interior of the Seymour Museum.
The museum, which once housed city hall and the police station, was one of five stops on a walking tour of the city for eighth-graders at Seymour Middle School.
Teams of students also toured the present city hall across from the museum, the present police station a couple of blocks east of the museum, the Jackson County Visitor Center and the Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce.
“The goal was to have students learn how these five sites play an important role in the everyday lives of the residents of Seymour,” said Seymour Middle School teacher Chris Kleber, who organized the trip.
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Kleber said the tour also combined two of the major topics students taking eighth-grade history have to learn about — local history and local city government.
Each site was designed to teach the students a different aspect of everyday life.
Students learned about the city’s past and growth over time by visiting the museum. Lenny Hauersperger is heading the museum’s board of directors, and he spoke with the students about ongoing renovation work and plans for future exhibits there.
At city hall, Jana Plump showed students the offices and introduced them to officials who serve the community and explained what each position does.
While at the police station, students had the chance to learn about the technology available to officers and the different roles of the police in the community.
Planning and business were major facets of the students’ lesson at the chamber of commerce, while officials with the Jackson County Visitor Center gave students an overview of what the county has to offer and its history.
“We’ve had a lot of questions from the students about the Reno gang because they were mean and tough,” said Jane Hays with the Jackson County Visitor Center. “(The students) all think the jail cell is pretty cool, too.”
Hays, the center’s public relations manager, was referring to a cell from the Floyd County Jail that sits outside the visitor center at 100 N. Broadway St. Four members of the Reno Gang were taken from the jail and lynched by a group of vigilantes Dec. 12, 1868.
The Reno Gang was a major topic of conversation for the students while at the visitor center, where they learned about the gang’s crimes, including the nation’s first train robbery.
The students also learned about several of the gang members’ ultimate fate, which involved hanging by vigilantes at Hangman’s Crossing on the city’s far west side.
“The stuff about the Reno Gang and Hangman’s Crossing was something I didn’t know about,” eighth-grader Zen Stripling said.
Zen also said he would like to come back to the visitor center and look around a bit when he had more time.
Hays said she was just glad to have a chance to show the students around the center.
“I think it’s an awesome idea. They may go by here all the time but never know what’s here,” she said. “I think it makes them feel connected. They feel like they know more about their roots.”
The information learned by the students will correspond to lessons taught in class, Kleber said. The sites were selected based on historical importance in Seymour or for their ties to city government.
“We spent a large amount of time during the first nine weeks discussing government at the federal, state and city levels,” Kleber said.
Kleber said that before the tour none of eighth-graders knew where all five locations were.
Learning wasn’t limited to students.
Kleber said he learned the most visiting the police station, especially about the technology available. Five of the 12 teachers in the eighth-grade teams were not born in Seymour, so this was a learning experience for them, too.
“We received a lot of positive feedback from the students,” he said. “They found each site interesting and definitely learned a lot at each site.”
With the event being well received by all parties involved, Kleber said the school will probably repeat the walking field trip in the years to come.