Ending the school year

This was the second year that Ms. Avis Johnson led her students at R.B. Stall High School through the Ancestors unKnown curriculum. We’ve been so impressed by Ms. Johnson’s commitment to her students and the mission of our program. She’s fortunate to work with such bright, thoughtful, and curious young people. And it’s been a pleasure to be a part of her students’ journey of history exploration, family history research, and defining their own legacies. What a year it’s been! Read on to learn how it ended.

Last month, students were particularly inspired by a visit from Prof. Melissa Cooper from the University of South Carolina. Prof. Cooper helped the students to re-imagine the outcome of their family history research, focusing less on the size of the family tree and valuing more the stories of each ancestor they do know. Ms. Johnson reported that students’ research excelled after Prof. Cooper’s visit. And some groundbreaking oral history interviews of the students’ elders resulted.

Prof. Cooper from USC presents to R.B. Stall students, May 2014

To wrap up the school year, students prepared time capsules that will tell future generations (and their future selves) something about who they are today. Students put lots of thought into what they would put into their capsules. Ms. Johnson will return the capsules to the students in their graduation year, 2017. But they won’t be opened until 2024! (We secretly wish we could sneak a peek at the stories the students have told.)

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And finally, students presented the results of their family history projects. We’re blown away!

Patrick was at first reluctant to complete the project due to his lack of knowledge of his father’s side. However, with a little history knowledge and encouragement, he now proudly displays his ancestry!
Claudia was able to trace her family back five generations.

Impressive results and an incredible year! Many thanks to Ms. Johnson and her students for sharing it with us!

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