School Programs

Cemetery Stories

Cemetery Stories allows students to discover what cemeteries can tell us about the Geneva community and the people who have shaped it. They will examine cemetery art and find out what it reveals about the people of the past and use critical thinking skills to discover how some of Geneva’s early residents lived, died and remembered one another. Normally offered in October. Grant funding supports attendance from Geneva City School District classes. To register for the 2023 sessions, click here.

Grade 2

Students learn why communities have cemeteries, how they are places to remember loved ones, and what they can tell us about our community’s past. With second grade classes we focus on the basic information found on gravestones, including names, dates and symbols, and what a cemetery plot is. Students learn a bit of Washington Street Cemetery’s history and how it reflects the values of some of Geneva’s early residents. Weather permitting, we make gravestone rubbings. We recommend bringing 2-3 additional adults to help supervise small groups for gravestone rubbings. Click here for preparation suggestions and previsit activities.

Grade 5

The fifth-grade Cemetery Stories program builds on student knowledge of American history from fourth grade and gives them the opportunity to apply their research skills in a real place, sifting evidence from artifacts and historic documents to tell the story of a family buried in the cemetery. Following a brief discussion of the cemetery’s history and a whole group activity at one family plot, the class will divide into small groups (4-5 students) that will each examine a plot. Using the stones as a guide, the students will examine primary sources from the Historic Geneva collection to reach conclusions about the people buried in their cemetery plot.

We recommend bringing 2-3 additional adults to help supervise and work with the students when they break into small groups to investigate a family plot. Barring serious weather conditions, Cemetery Stories will be held rain or shine at Washington Street Cemetery. Call if you are unsure about the weather. Copies of the documents we will be using and some supplementary pre and post visit materials for the classroom are below.

NYS Standards Covered

  • Social Studies Standard 1
  • ELA Standard 1
  • Arts Standards 3, 4