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Shook celebrates annual Pioneer Day


When seniors look back at their school experience, they often highlight Pioneer Day as one of the most memorable. The day explores a pivotal part of American history. Friday, May 17 Shook Elementary School hosted it’s annual tradition. From intricate pioneer outfits to music performances and culinary exploration, fun was had by all who participated.

“The first Pioneer Day was planned and held by two teachers on a sunny Sunday in May at the end of the school year in 1991. Fourth grade was still at Hubble Elementary at the time,” recalled Marianne Baker. 

“We were exhausted pioneers after that first celebration,” Deborah Wilkerson laughed. “But we knew we’d do it again and the next year… and we convinced the other fourth grade teachers to join us.”

“Then in 2001 we moved to the new school, Shook Elementary and continued the Pioneer Day celebrations,” said Baker.

“Today, we celebrate the 30th anniversary of fourth grade Pioneer Day in Marshfield,” added Wilkerson. 

Each year, students show up on Pioneer Day dressed as indigenous people, cowboys, cowgirls and pioneers. They head to their classrooms to cook and consume their own pioneer-style breakfast before heading to the gymnasium for the program portion of the day. Program founders, Deborah Wilkerson and Marianne Baker opened this year’s show by traveling through Pioneer Day history – a tradition carried on through thirty years.

As Marianne Baker and Deborah Wilkerson organized the Pioneer Day events through the years, they were able to get the entire school to buy in, with participation from every fourth grade teacher, as well as music, art and gym instructors.

“When they decided to do a program along with their Missouri unit, these two teachers truly blessed these kids. Having my own kids go through it – it’s one of the best memories that they have of fourth grade,” explained long-time Marshfield gym teacher, square dance instructor and Coach James McAnarney. McAnarney has been involved for 28 years and 27 Pioneer Days, due to COVID’s cancellation of the 2020 celebration. McAnarney retires this year from his career that spans decades in Marshfield. (Read more in next week’s edition of the Marshfield Mail)

“It really helps drive home Missouri history and they remember it a lot more through this experience, so I think it’s just awesome.”


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