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Angel Stadium holds largest history lesson

Angel Stadium holds largest history lesson

Angel Stadium holds largest history lesson
ANAHEIM -- There was no baseball game being played at Angel Stadium on Tuesday morning, but that didn't stop over 25,000 people from converging upon it.

More specifically, 20,000 third-graders from Orange County came to take part in the largest history lesson ever. They came from 180 elementary schools and from 25 school districts across the county.

The educational program, named the Gift of History, taught students about the deep history of Orange County. The lesson even included presentations from celebrities, elected officials and local education leaders.

"Orange County is rich with history. It certainly is something to celebrate," said Gail Eastman, Anaheim City Councilwoman and chair of the Gift of History Planning Committee. "We wanted to create an experience for third-graders that would accentuate this history in an unforgettable setting."

Caroline Sunshine, co-star of Disney's hit series "Shake it Up," hosted the event on a stage right behind second base and was joined by Jose Mota, Angels broadcaster and former Major League player and Bill Habermehl, superintendent for the Orange County Department of Education.

Mickey Mouse even surprised the third-graders with a visit as they sat along the first- and third-base lines at the field, loge and upper-deck levels.

"You don't see vintage police cars, horse-drawn carriages and a helicopter all on a baseball field," Sunshine said, who grew up in Tustin. "Something that these kids see every day puts it into the spotlight."

"I'm used to calling the action, but their was a script today," Mota said. "A part of the fun for me is the tie in with the Angels, the ballpark, hearing Gene Autry's name mentioned and the education and history."

The event culminated with a collaborative reading of Stan Oftelie's book "Nothing Rhymes with Orange," an illustrated book on the history of Orange County that all the third-graders received when the event ended.

"My favorite thing of the day was seeing Mickey dancing," said Genesis Perez, a third-grader at Fairhaven Elementary School. "I also learned that nothing rhymes with orange."

After the event, officials from the Guinness Book of World Records certified it as the largest history lesson to take place.

The world's largest attended history lesson before Tuesday occurred in Hertfordshire, England, at the Hatfield House with 1,198 children.

Yet, prior to the record being broken, a sea of yellow school buses lined the parking lot outside the stadium as students filed in before the 10 a.m. PT program.

"It is a very special day because it is just for third-graders," said Dawn Page, third grade teacher at Sierra Vista Elementary School in Placentia. "The students have been full of energy the whole day, popping their heads out of the bus, ready to come to Angel Stadium."

As students patiently waited in their seats and talked to friends before the lesson began, they were treated to entertainment from local dance and singing troupes and even trivia about local communities and attractions, shouting out the answers every time.

"It is such a unique experience for all of the third- graders to take part in," Sunshine said. "I think it is so great to be teaching kids about history, and it is a day they will remember forever. They have a new memory and will hopefully tell it to their kids and remember that school can be fun."

Quinn Roberts is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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