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Cedar River Academy Students Shine at Knowledge Fair

The students, ranging from kindergarten through the middle school grades, presented projects for family, friends and community members covering what they learned during this year's winter term.

During Thursday's Knowledge Fair at , which is an opportunity for students to show off what they've learned in the previous term, the first grade class presented their work in learning about the city of Enumclaw -- past and present.

First-grader Jack Murphy chose to study Enumclaw's own John James Smith and even sported a nametag that read 'Dr. J.J. Smith' while sharing with visitors what he learned about Dr. Smith.

What should we know about J.J. Smith? Well, he bought the first car, said Jack. And he also went around town and told people if they needed to fix their houses and if they didn't, he bought their house and did it himself.

It's a pretty good interpretation of Louise Ross Poppleton's There is Only One Enumclaw, which reads of Dr. J.J. Smith: "He daringly bought the first automobile in Enumclaw. ...He did much to make Enumclaw one of the cleanest and most beautiful towns in the state. It is said that if a shack or building was offensive, he persuaded the owner to tear it down, paint or remove it. If they did not cooperate, he bought the building and took care of it."

Jack spent much time on his work, including a model of the current J.J. Smith school building that was also the previous site of Cedar River Academy. What's the coolest thing, though, about J.J. Smith?

Said Jack: "It's cool because he was very rich and he could buy a lot of stuff."

Next to Jack was classmate Conner Koeppel who was labeled (via nametag) and dressed as a 'lumber worker.' Conner studied the White River Lumber Company and said he thought the coolest thing was learning what a 'flume' was.

Third-grader Lucas Vanderhoof studied the state of Georgia as part of the Thirteen Colonies. In addition to covering topics like industries, way of life and important people of the time, Lucas demonstrated some of the tools used by early settlers to make candles for lighting and warmth and said his favorite part of studying Georgia was learning about what people hunted. "They hunted deer, bears, ducks, geese and turkey," he said.

Across the way, fourth-grader Alissa Crossley shared what she learned about World War II, the 1940s and her particular project on Camp Harmony, a Japanese-American internment camp.

Alissa said she chose this topic after taking a trip to the MOHAI museum in Seattle. Recognizing the sensitivity of weighing humanity against the need for national security, Alissa said she thought the internment camps were understandable because the U.S. wanted to protect Americans, but only a handful of those sent to Camp Harmony were found to be spies.

Most were regular people, she said. "I don't think it was the right thing to do."

She also built a replica of a camp mess hall and sleeping barracks. "They had to share their small barracks," she said and most had four or five cots to sleep in. "The eldest family members usually slept in the cots and the younger ones slept on the ground. And it was cold."

Meanwhile, some familiar faces stood by their presentations on environmental findings of Mahler Park. Sixth and seventh graders Atticus Chous, Clint Larrea, Clara Gerken, Jose Garcia and Shelby Porter recently shared their inventory findings of Enumclaw's Mahler Park with the city Park Board at the suggestion of the community development director Erika Shook. Shook suggested the students actually take on the project of proposing a development plan for the park. ().

But this was just a section of studies the students covered this term. They also went deep into learning about the post-WWII European Union into present day. Each student wrote a character analysis of a 20th century European figure which included British writer Agatha Christie and Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.

“Cedar River Academy applies its Student-Centered Education Model to transfer learning responsibility from teachers to students”, said Anne Gerken, Cedar River Academy Admissions Director. “Our students develop subject matter skills and then apply them to projects that interest them. This research, build, document, and present cycle assures the student has a high interest level and deep conceptual subject matter understanding.”

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