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HOPKINTON - Last Friday, Richard Prescott, president of the Hopkinton Historical Society and member of the first graduating class of Chariho High School, guided fourth grade Hope Valley Elementary School students through the streets of Hopkinton, stopping at sites along the way to discuss the historical importance of certain buildings and landmarks.
The students were led by their fourth grade social studies teacher, Denise Foggo.
â€śEvery time we go on one of these tours, I learn something new,â€ť said Foggo, taking notes along the way.
Foggo has been teaching her students about the townâ€™s history in preparation for this living history experience for months.
The first stop on the walking portion of the tour was the Dow Field Memorial Plaque.
â€śEveryone knows Dow Field,â€ť said Prescott to an audience of note-taking students, teachers and chaperones. â€śBut most people donâ€™t know who Dow was or why this field is here.â€ť
He proceeded to explain that James Ernest Dow was the first soldier from Hope Valley to be killed in action; the field was dedicated to Dowâ€™s memory by his family.
After several more stops, including the Hope Valley Grange, Saint Joseph's Church, Morroneâ€™s Auto, Barbera Hall, and Averyâ€™s Funeral Home, the students were told that they were walking to meet Frederick Kenney, a 93-year-old Hope Valley resident, who would tell them his story about living in the town in the 1920s.
Like a scene from an old movie, Kenney suddenly appeared from around a corner in his flag-bearing golf cart, disrupting traffic momentarily and parting the group of sidewalk-travelling students like the Red Sea. As the students gathered around Kenney near a fountain just three years younger than him, he spoke of days of dirt roads and stagecoaches.
â€śI was the first person in my family to go to high school,â€ť Kenney said through a megaphone held by Prescott. â€śI had brothers, and they werenâ€™t stupid - there was just no way for them to get to school.â€ť
Kenney was just entering high school age when the school bus was invented. He cites the invention as the catalyst for his education and his graduation from high school in 1939.
On this note, the students boarded the bus to continue the tour, which included a visit to the Jacob Babcock House, the still-standing home which served as the first stop in Rhode Island on the Underground Railroad.