RALEIGH — Surry County historians took top honors in Raleigh recently, continuing a several-year-long winning streak.
The Jesse Franklin Pioneers Junior Historians club at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History won for its group project; and three members, Eleanor Edwards and Cora Branch, both sixth-graders, and Brooks Harold, fifth-grader, won first place in their divisions for individual entries at the Tar Heel Junior Historians’ Conference held at the North Carolina Museum of History.
The club, made up of grades 4-6 from Millennium Charter, Jones Intermediate, Franklin Elementary and home schools, traveled to the annual state Tar Heel Junior Historian Association Convention on April 27 at the State Museum of History. The team has 19 members this year, and Sonya Laney, former director of STEAM Education and Programs at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History, was the staff advisor. STEAM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.
Fourteen members were able to make the trip and spent the day exploring the museum and attending sessions on topics ranging from the economics of Carolina cotton to making felt to the history of pirates on the Carolina coast.
Created by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1953, the state organization is sponsored by the North Carolina Museum of History. There are 182 clubs in 60 NC counties. The local club has been meeting after school at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History each Thursday of the school year since 2006. Members research local and state history and how it intersects with national and international events as well as creating individual and group projects for the state competition. Chick-fil-A has been the business sponsor for several years.
The group is planning service projects over the summer and will begin meeting again in September. Call Kate Rauhauser-Smith, museum Director of STEAM Education and Programs, at (336) 786-4478 x228 for information.
The Jesse Franklin Pioneers Tar Heel Junior Historians “Mayberry Crossroads” card game won First Place Exhibit/Art Category, Intermediate Division.
The project is a group card game which takes players through Mount Airy’s development from the three cabins identified on the 1748 Jefferson & Frye map, through the coming of the railroad and booming industrial growth. Each member helped research a different industry in Surry County (agriculture, mercantile, tourism, manufacturing, tobacco, railroad, granite quarry, textiles and furniture). They realized early on how interdependent the industries are. Granite was too heavy to transport commercially before the railroad arrived. Rain is great for farmers but bad for tourism.
Even though most of the group are elementary students the project competed in the Intermediate division (6-8 grades) because four members are in the sixth grade. The group regularly brings home honors with individual and group projects taking first prize over several years.
Cora Branch, sixth grade, Millennium Charter Academy – “A Conductor’s Daughter” won First Place in the Literary Category, Intermediate (grades 6-8).
Cora wrote a diary of a fictional NC girl in the months leading up to the Civil War. She and her family were part of the Underground Railroad from Guilford County to Indiana. “A Conductor’s Daughter” gives a poignant perspective on a complicated time in the state’s history. This is the third year in a row Cora has won this category for her age division.
Brooks Harold, fifth grade, Millennium Charter Academy – “The Wilmington Race Riot of 1898” won First Place in the Literary Category, Elementary Division (grades 4-5).
Researched the Wilmington Race Riots of 1898 and reported on that tragic event when white citizens of the city committed voter fraud to replace the African-American Republicans who’d been elected two years before. A mob burned the African-American ‘Daily Record Newspaper’ and many black citizens were killed as the riots went on through the night. Thousands fled Wilmington as a result.
Eleanor Edwards, sixth grade, Millennium Charter Academy – Universal Mercury II Model CX Camera won First Place in Artifact Search, Intermediate Division (grades 6-8).
Eleanor described a Universal Mercury II camera, one of the first affordable candid cameras made in America. It was purchased by her grandfather’s brother while he was stationed in Japan after WWII and handed down through her family along with a love for photography and history. This is the third year in a row that Ellie has won first place with her individual project.