La Casita students make history

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks La Casita Elementary School sixth-graders Leonardo Pereda, left, and Adriana Romero make adjustments Monday afternoon to a museum project they are working on. They are members of Mary Finifrock’s art class.

By Gabriel Monte

An art class at La Casita Elementary School learned about Clovis history by creating it.

The students in the school’s gifted and talented class pieced together a mobile museum of the city’s history with yarn, recycled paper and their imagination.

Teacher Mary Finifrock said the students, who ranged from third- to sixth-graders, worked on the project for about a month.

The museum includes painted paper teepees representing the Native Americans who lived in the area before government troops forced them to other places, such as Fort Sumner.

“It was a wonderful experience to figure out the past of Clovis,” said sixth-grader Javier Jermosillo, who worked on a replica of early downtown Clovis.

Another section focuses on the early settlers who came to Clovis and made homes out of dugouts and sod houses.

“The pioneers didn’t have it as good as we do,” said fifth-grader Isaac Sena, who worked on the early-settler section.

The museum also includes the history of the Santa Fe Railroad.

The students gathered information for the museum from newspaper clippings, a historical calendar and stories from students’ grandparents, Finifrock said.

“(It was great) seeing the excitement of the students,” she said. “They think about dates and how things fit together.”

Fifth-grader Ruby Flores said her grandmother, who came to Clovis in the 1960s, told her about making baskets and leather crafts for a living.

She said the project has given her a new appreciation for Clovis and the buildings on Main Street, such as the Lyceum Theater.

“It’s kind of interesting to read about it,” she said.

The museum will be put on display in the lobby of the elementary school, Finifrock said. She said there are other areas for the museum she’s looking at but nothing certain yet.

Given the choice, some students have their own ideas of where they want their project exhibited.

“Main Street,” said Flores, “’cause that’s where people go.”