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Parmalee students see history in their backyard

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By Barbara Ford

Third-graders at Parmalee Elementary School traversed Indian Hills on a guided bus tour on Friday, ending their morning excursion with a stop at a school neighbor’s property that had been an early-1900s popular tourist attraction.
The trip is an annual event for the third-graders as part of the Foothills to Freeways social studies unit, teacher Kelley Lehman said. The students begin by learning about their school community, branch out to Indian Hills and eventually will spend a day in Denver.
During Friday’s outing, local historians told the students about the area’s past.
“We hope they understand the historical significance of their community,” Lehman said. “We don’t have a lot of architecture, but we have a very rich history.”
She said the students viewed almost 20 sites in the Indian Hills area.
“We show them where things used to be, such as the school that burned down in 1918 and where the sawmill was. They appreciate how historic this valley really is,” said teacher Justine Creel.
The final stop on the tour was the adobe home of Jennifer Cuntz, whose property is a neighbor to Parmalee Elementary. Walking through the ornate wrought-iron gate is like stepping into another time and place.
“They learned about different ways to make houses, make bricks and see the workshops,” Cuntz said.
The house, which Cuntz said was built in 1918, was re-fashioned into an adobe-style home. The land around the house looks like a small village complete with a workshop and other adobe buildings.
The house and village are called NaTeSo. The name is taken from three Native American tribe names  — Navajo, Tesuque and San Ildefonso.
Cuntz provided lunch for almost 50 kids in a colorful food fiesta of tortillas, meats, vegetables and fruits after they made bricks and toured the workshop. The small village was once a tourist attraction and included a museum.
Visitors to the village could watch experts throw pottery and visit the small casitas —Spanish for small house — on the property.
James Lynch, a student in Creel’s class, said everything about the tour was special.
“I think it’s a really good idea because we get to connect with (our history),” James said.
Jane Miller, one of Lehman’s students, said she liked the field trip and it was a good way to learn.
Lehman said that even though the field trip was close to home, the kids learned and had fun at the same time.
 “They are so interested in seeing things in their own neighborhood,” Lehman said.

Contact Barbara Ford at barbara@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1043. Check www.HighTimberTimes.com for updates.