Lowndes County students to attend National History Day competition

Published 6:12 pm Monday, April 5, 2010


Dhestinee Ray (left) and LaMarkris Sellers (right) pose for a photo beside their exhibit board at the Alabama History Day competition.

By Eason Franklin
The Lowndes Signal

Students from Lowndes County recently attended Auburn University in Montgomery to participate in a contest as a part of Alabama History Day on March 26.

Part of National History Day, the event was themed Innovations in History: Impact and Change as a way for participating students to expand their knowledge of people, ideas, events and issues in American history.

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The children could choose to write research papers, create a web site, film a documentary, put together an exhibit board or write and participate in a historical performance.

With the help of Gifted Education teacher Paula Westmoreland, the students chose to research the history of Lowndes County.

The children interviewed people who lived during that time, read books concerning the events, wrote a paper telling of how they came to choose individual topics and what they learned from the research.

The children met once a week over a period of three months to construct material for their topic.

Myaira Coleman, daughter of Shantell Coleman of White Hall, Sun’Derrick White, son of Sherita White of White Hall, Telsiya Rudolph, daughter of Jacqueline Rudolph of Braggs and Brianna Belts, daughter of Jamie and Lenny Lee of Lowndesboro, took part in a group performance demonstrating the way citizens lived during the Civil Rights era.

Named “Tent City”, the children played the roles of Billy Jean (Coleman), Earnestine (Rudolph) and Anamay (Betts) while White narrated the events throughout the performance.

“We wanted to tell about what it was like in Tent City and how it changed people’s lives,” said White, a Lowndes Middle School student.

Among people interviewed by the children was Judge John Hulett, Jr., whose father was one of the founding members of the Lowndes County Freedom Organization (LCFO). Hulett spoke to the children of his father’s achievements and the difficulties of voting by African-American during that period.

Dhestinee Ray, daughter of Karen Ray Williams and Kendrell Williams of Mosses and LaMarkris Sellers, son of Nakita and Kelly Sellers of Ft. Deposit, constructed an exhibit board explaining the role of the LCFO.

“It was scary and fun at the same time,” said Hayneville Middle student Dhestinee Ray. “We got to learn how other students came up with ideas at the event.”

Ray and Sellers placed within the top two of the Junior Division, Exhibit Board category and are scheduled to attend the National competition at the University of Maryland in June.

Due to lack of funding, the schools, teachers and parents will be discussing fundraising ideas to help get the students to the event.

All of the children are sixth-grade students and part of the Lowndes County Gifted Education Program under the supervision of Paula Westmoreland. They have nicknamed their group Kritically Intelligent and Determined Students (KIDS).

The Gifted Education Program “targets students who show creativity and have a very high potential, show creative initiative and excel above the average student,” said Hayneville Middle School teacher Shelley Smith.

Students’ grades are first analyzed, then the children tested on responses to open-ended questions to determine their eligibility to participate in the program.

Recently the children have studied entomology and constructed projects on the different states.

“We try and set children up to learn to make positive choices,” said Westmoreland. “We want to teach them to make these choices on their own.”

The class also has a blog telling the different activities to which they participate in class which can be located at lcpsgifted.blogspot.com.

An appearance and performance will be scheduled April 15 at the Board of Education district office to allow the students to re-demonstrate their play and re-present their exhibit board.