On the day before Halloween, 8th grade students at the F.A. Day Middle School in Newton will use the East Parish Burying Ground as an outdoor classroom for lessons in math, science, English and history -– as well as spooky stories. Students will closely examine the headstones, which date from the late 1600s to the late 1800s. They will read the epitaphs for English, calculate the density for math, and identify the rocks for science. A history lesson will give an overview of the cemetery. Students will also perform community service by raking leaves and cleaning up branches and other debris in the Burying Ground.
The East Parish Burying Ground, located at the corner of Cotton and Centre Streets, is the resting place of Newton's founding European families and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Because it was used continuously for more than 200 years, the cemetery shows a sequence of styles in gravestone art and changes in burial practices. The markers on the graves of at least six early Newton inhabitants are still standing, the carvings for the most part as clear as on the day they were cut. Much the same can be said for the majority of the markers commemorating those who followed them: teachers, selectmen and other town officials, weavers, soldiers, millers, yeomen, and their wives and families, each of whom made some contribution to the development of the town.
Historic Newton manages the preservation of the graves and tombs at the East Parish Burying Ground, one of Newton’s three City-owned historic burying grounds. Further information can be found here.