Thanks to Hamilton streaming on Disney+, the U.S. Revolutionary War is back in vogue. But Archbishop Hoban High School history teacher Jason Anderson has been bringing George Washington to life since 2014 — 1770s-era garb and all. Each spring semester, he and his high school students reenact a Revolutionary War encampment for nearly 1,000 kids from nearby elementary schools. While the pandemic put this year’s event on hold, Anderson took to Zoom to make sure the younger kids still got a taste of the country’s first president.
Q: Why did you start virtual field trips?
A: [At past reenactments], the kids met Gen. Washington, and he has come out here to this Ohio territory to see the progress of this fort. I kind of thought, Is there a way that we could still reach the fourth and fifth grade students? I encouraged the teachers to get a hold of their students and say, “Hey, on Friday we’re going to meet Gen. Washington for half an hour.” [I’d get dressed up], and all of a sudden, there’s 30 fourth graders on a computer screen to see Gen. Washington.
Q: What do you hope the elementary school students got out of these virtual field trips?
A: I hope that those kids and their teachers were able to kind of take a little bit of a break from the humdrum, to look at doing schoolwork in a different way. I hope that in the midst of all that craziness in the spring, [the field trips] lightened the load for those kids a little as they still kept on learning.
Q: How have you prepared to play Washington?
A: I’ve read a lot on Washington. For as long as I’ve done the program here, I’ve spent summers down at [his home in] Mount Vernon, Virginia. First, as an individual teacher going to the summer teacher institute that they have. And then every year after that, I would go down either to help facilitate or help teach it. So you’re there, you’re immersed in that, and you read a lot about him.