Hundreds gathered at Dutch Fork Elementary School on December 7 for the school’s Centennial Celebration.
The event included a history lesson on the school and performances by students, a guest speaker, an original “Dutch Fork Elementary School Centennial Song” and much more.
“The Centennial is like a culminating project for us,” said fifth grade teacher Megan Drayton. “We began this actually a couple years ago looking into the history of Dutch Fork Elementary School. It has always been a part of our standards to understand what was going on in the 1920s and Julius Rosenwald’s investment in building black communities and educating our children, but this kind of built a journey of its own as we started to inquire into our school’s history and learning about the students who came here and how they are still a part of this community and are making a difference.”
“It was incredibly important for us to make a connection between our school’s legacy and our students today,” said Dutch Fork Elementary principal Julius Scott. “As a school we embrace inquiry as a stance and we learn how to take those things to make our school and community an even better place.”
Throughout the week, the school had a panel of people that represented the Rosenwald School or Rich-Lex Schools come speak to the students about their experiences.
“We still have a lot of these families who still live here, so they came out to share with us what they experienced,” said Brandon Gantt, Dutch Fork Elementary assistant principal. “Knowing the history of a school turns the building in to something bigger. In my opinion, if you don’t know the roots and the history of what came before you it’s hard to plan a firm direction of what’s coming next.”
Students also read the book Dear Mr. Rosenwald.
“I was able to relate the book to my students by sharing with them that the church next door to us provided the land for the schools which were housed on the property of Dutch Fork Elementary,” said Trina Poston, Dutch Fork Elementary school kindergarten teacher. “I was able to teach my boys and girls as historians how things were back to then as compared to how they are now.”
“It was very hard for some students to understand that there were two separate schools, one for black children and one for white children,” said fifth grade teacher Tarnissiya Jefferson. “We took the time to sit and talk about that and why they need to celebrate the fact that we are able to be together now because of laws being changed through the civil rights movement.”
“The past helps us to better predict the future and gives us a new perspective on just the value of learning from history because at times our students learn about history but it is from a very minute or skewed perspective,” Scott said. “Understanding where we are in this school has major significance that is not just relevant today but this site has been relevant for 100 years and how many schools can lay claim to that?”