BFA Journalism Students Get a Taste of Local History


BFA students get informed about the history of the school by former BFA teacher Louise Haynes. Photo credit: Paxton Getty

Rachel Ledoux, Editor

On April 19, students in Larissa Hebert’s journalism class got the opportunity to explore Vermont and Bellows Free Academy history on a field trip to the St. Albans Historical Society.

Students were treated to a private tour of the museum where they viewed exhibits on the St. Albans railway system, Civil War soldiers, farming, the suffragette movement and many other pieces of St. Albans history.

“It was cool to learn about events like the [St. Albans Raid], which I had never heard about,” Anna Bouchard (‘23) said.

Some students even had personal connections with the exhibits.

“In the agriculture room, it was cool to see photos and writing of the old Fairfield Station, which is still in my family today,” Hannah Branon (‘23) said. “It was nice to connect with my roots.”

The tour was led by Louise Haynes, who took questions and provided further insight into the exhibitions for the class. As a former French and Spanish teacher at BFA, Haynes had some unique personal experiences and anecdotes to share, as well as describing some of the changes BFA has gone through over the years.

Prior to the tour, Haynes detailed a history of BFA and the museum’s usage as a school. She shared some of the evolutions BFA has undergone, such as a switch from an hour of lunch outside school to 25 minutes of provided lunch for students. Additionally, a strong aspect of the tour was an exhibition featuring musical instruments, desks and work from BFA throughout its history. 

Another highlight of the trip was a look into the museum archives for Paxton Getty (‘24) and Penelope Noza (‘24), who are members of BFA´s Journalism Club, which produces The Mercury, and joined the tour as guests. The two are currently working with the Northwest Career and Technical Center’s Outreach Coordinator, Dino Patsouris, to preserve Mercury archives. The class and Mercury team left the museum with copies of this year’s print edition to add to their collection.

The archives weren’t the only reason for the trip, however. According to Hebert, the tour was intended primarily as a means of opening students’ eyes to stories within the community as inspiration for future stories.

“[We hope] to learn about BFA’s and St. Albans’ history, and how we’re continuing to make history with The Mercury,” Hebert said prior.

Judging from the students’ experiences, that goal was achieved.

“It was nice to see the often untold -but interesting- history of St. Albans,” Jakob Birnbaum (‘23) said.

Beginning on May 27, the St. Albans Historical Society will be offering free admission for their 2023 season. They are open Wednesdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Students are encouraged to visit if they are interested in exploring St. Albans’ history.