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David Ziskin

Superintendent of Schools

25 High Street

Fort Plain, NY 13339





Musician Dave Ruch sings historic songs for Harry Hoag students

 With banjo in hand, musician Dave Ruch sang the opening lines to the historic song, “The Constitution and the Guerriere,” to the fifth grade students at Harry Hoag Elementary School on Friday, Feb. 7:

“It oft-times has been told, that the British seamen bold, Could flog the tars of France, so neat and handy, Oh! But they never met their match, till the Yankees did them catch, Oh, the Yankee boys for fighting Are the dandy, Oh!”

After the first verse, he then asked the students if they knew who the Yankees were, and jokingly asked them to not say the baseball team.

Ruch conducted sessions – featuring music tied into historical events –with each grade level. Cheryl Toomey’s fifth grade students are working on a unit on the American expansion out west and are currently studying the War of 1812. Ruch thought the song would tie in well because it’s about the battle between the USS Constitution and HMS Guerriere near Nova Scotia during the War of 1812.

During Ruch’s session, the students clapped and sung along and asked lots of questions.

“I’ve been working with each grade level, and we’ve done songs about the Erie Canal, the Iroquois and now the War of 1812,” Ruch said. “The kids have been great and ready to learn. You can tell you’re reaching them and that the music helps.

Mrs. Toomey said her students have been “excited” about studying the War of 1812 and even more so about the musical sessions.

Ruch came to the school thanks to a $2,000 Arts in Education Grant awarded by Target. He’s in the middle of a two-day residency, and during his second visit, fourth and fifth grade students will participate in songwriting sessions on New York’s Native Americans. The fifth and sixth grade students will also participate in songwriting sessions on regions of the United States or another topic of teacher interest. This is the fourth year he’s performed at the school.

His program for each grade includes the following:
• Grades K-1 - Songs from our Communities.
• Grades 2-3 - World Communities.
• Grade 4 - The Native Americans of New York.
• Grades 5 - 6- Regions of the United States.