Students looking at artwork in museum
Blodgett Elementary students point to their favorites in response to the question posed by teacher Elaine Hall. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Downstairs last week in the Philomath Museum, a group of students in grades K-2 looked on with eagerness while teacher Diane Priewe offered descriptions of the various exhibits. Meanwhile, upstairs in the gallery, students in grades 3-4 answered teacher Elaine Hall’s questions while sharing their views on a student art display.

A short time later when the two groups overlapped, they got together on the stage for a photo in their new T-shirts to remember the day. And it was only getting started with a lineup of activities that would also include the library, local youth club and the swimming pool.

“It helps kids feel normal when they have the freedom to go and learn somewhere else. They always remember what we do; they’re not going to remember what we say,” Hall laughed.

This particular group of kids hailed from Blodgett Elementary, the smallest campus in the Philomath School District, and they were in town for their first indoor field trip in two years. This past fall, they were able to visit a local pumpkin patch but the March 17 trip into Philomath served as a bit of a milestone as pandemic-related indoor restrictions began to loosen.

The school district dropped the mask mandate going into last week.

“It’s really nice to see all of their expressions and their smiles,” Priewe said. “So that’s been really wonderful this week.”

Blodgett Elementary has an enrollment of 22 students.

“We were thrilled that the museum was willing to have us put art up again and that they’re open and that we could have a field trip and they felt comfortable with us coming,” Hall said. “So we kind of went, ‘how can we enhance the day and make it socially appropriate, educationally appropriate, kid friendly, and what are the things we want them to learn and do?’”

Those factors all added up to the museum, library, PYAC and the pool — a field trip that had been arranged in previous years prior to the pandemic shutdown.

The museum’s “Art: The 4th R” exhibit, now in its 40th year, remains in place through April 9.

Priewe called the field trip a wonderful experience.

“It’s really important to be able to go out into the community … and represent Blodgett Elementary,” Priewe said. “And these kids are awesome — they’re very well-behaved.”

From the museum, the group headed to Philomath Community Library.

“They have all signed up for a library card and so they’ll all get a new card today and they can check out two books,” Priewe said. “From there, we’re going to go to lunch at PYAC and then we’ll head over to Philomath Community Pool and swim for 45 minutes.”

A group of parent volunteers helped with the trip, including those who got in the water with the children at the pool.

“Blodgett is an option for all kids within the Philomath School District,” Priewe said about the rural school, which is located about 15 minutes west of town. “Definitely, they are welcome to register at kindergarten at Blodgett.”

Currently, the school has five kindergarten students. And among the 22 students, five come out to Blodgett from within the Philomath city limits.

“Our school is differentiated to meet all the needs of kids whatever their grade level but we break into small groups,” she said. “It’s kind of nice because the olders can work with the youngers as well. It’s a nice little family community.”

Brad Fuqua, Philomath News

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.