Fifth-graders first to pen Northside’s history

Dec. 23, 2013 @ 09:40 AM

Third- and fifth-graders at Northside Elementary have made a clear connection with the heritage of their school with the dedication of a book that traces the legacy of the school.

The students gathered in the library of the new school for the dedication of a book the fifth-graders wrote on the history of their school. School librarian Kathryn Cole said that this was the first project of its kind.
“This was the first project-based learning unit, and they are still learning how to be historians,” Cole said to a crowd of students, parents and community members. “Our school has a very rich history. Long before the new building was constructed, we wanted to share that with our students and the community at large.”
Cole said that when she came to the school the first thing she looked for was a written history of the school. Unable to find a comprehensive source, she commissioned the school’s fifth-graders to help compile information.
Among those on hand for the dedication was Nothside alumnus Minister Robert Campbell. Campbell along with fellow alumni Esphur Foster and Kathy Atwater visited the classes and told students about their time as students at Northside.
After the unveiling of the book, Campbell shared some words of wisdom with the students. “Even with a good stew, it has to simmer for a while then it can come together,” Campbell said of the diversity of the students. “Each individual has their own cultural identity but they are part of a whole. It’s up to you to become the ambassadors of America, peace and joy and to share your culture to make America a better place.”
Atwater was also present at the dedication and noted that the students were “making history, they’re the first graduating class to record this history.”
Northside Elementary was the Orange County Training School, Lincoln High and Northside School, serving the black community, prior to its most recent incarnation as an elementary school.
Fifth-grade teacher Sarah Moore said that among the research the students talked about was “why there were segregated schools, the mistakes we made in our past and making sure we don’t make those mistakes again and that there is no need for a segregated school.”
The students found and read through old written narratives about the school, and combed through old photos. 
A few of the students shared highlights that they found from their research including the school’s environment in the midst of Jim Crow segregation and the strong athletic history of the school.
Three copies of the Northside history book were presented to the library, the first contributions to the school library’s new historical collection. People on hand were also able to use their smartphone or tablet to scan QR codes and access digital copies of the book.
Tyasia Hill is one of the students at Northside who worked on the history book along with Jyheim Teasley and Caleb French. All three said that they enjoyed the information they amassed during this project.
“I never knew they had a nickname,” Hill said. “They were called the basketeers and they were called that because they had a great (basketball) game.”
Teasley was shocked to learn that “the teachers lived close to the school and that they knew every single parent.”
French said that he “didn’t know they had sports. They actually had three kinds of sports.”
Fifth-grade teacher Brian Mason said that even though the process was different, the students were able to gain hands-on experience with researching a topic.
“I’m old enough to remember when research was a much less linear thing,” he told the crowd. “It wasn’t always linear. We couldn’t always find the answer we wanted at first so we had to go back. That’s what learning is all about.”