Students from Niagara Falls' Gaskill and LaSalle Preparatory schools are getting a special history lesson this fall thanks to the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area Commission and the National Park Foundation. In early October, students received copies of The Gold Laced Coat, an historical novel about Fort Niagara that was written by Niagara County native Helen Fuller Orton in the 1930s. The novel describes the adventures of several young people caught up in the siege of the Fort during the French and Indian War.
After reading the novel, students will be visited in their classrooms by Fort Niagara historical interpreters in period attire. Fort staff will describe life at the Fort during the 1750s and encourage students to compare events in the novel with actual events of the era.
November 1, 320 students will attend French Heritage Day at the Fort. This
event is an annual education day that showcases life on the Niagara when the
French occupied the region. The program is held in conjunction with National
French Week, sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of French. The
event features twenty learning stations that portray such diverse topics as French
music, architecture, military life, trade and food in the mid-18th
century. Many of the stations are interactive, allowing students to play the
part of colonial people.
The program is funded by an America's Best Ideas grant, a project of the National Park Foundation. Inspired by the critically acclaimed Ken Burns documentary The National Parks: America's Best Idea, the grant funds park programs designed to connect underserved and under-engaged populations throughout the United States with their national parks in innovative and meaningful ways.