Ulster BOCES students collaborate for June 17

Kate Hymes, Vice President at the Dr. Margaret Wade-Lewis Black History and Cultural Center, who is also Ulster County Poet Laureate; Jessica Pedro, teacher at Ulster BOCES Center for Innovative Teaching & Learning at Port Ewen; Joy Burns, Director of Outreach for the Witness Stones Project; and Dennis Culliton, Executive Director and Founder of the Witness Stones Project, are collaborating on a project to be part of the Juneteenth Celebration on June 19th in New Paltz. The Ulster BOCES CITL students will be the first to do this project at Huguenot Street.

PORT-EWEN — Students at the Ulster BOCES Center for Innovative Teaching & Learning (CITL) in Port Ewen will take part in a series of educational activities as part of a collaboration with the Witness Stones Project, a not-for-profit educational initiative whose mission is to restore the history and honor the humanity of the slaves who helped build our communities – and historic Huguenot Street in New Paltz. Together, they will commemorate the lives of Anthony and Susanna, two individuals enslaved on Huguenot Street in the 1600s. The collaborative project aims to deepen students’ understanding of slavery in the region through a blend of stories, historical fiction, poetry and songs.

Kate Hymes, vice president of the Dr. Margaret Wade-Lewis Center for Black History and Culture, who is also Ulster County Poet Laureate, visited students at the Ulster BOCES Center for Education and innovative learning in Port Ewen and read poetry highlighting Kingston’s rich history. .

The project will culminate with a special public Juneteenth celebration on historic Huguenot Street on June 19, where students will present their work and pay tribute to Anthony and Susanna. During the ceremony, two commemorative stones will be inaugurated on Huguenot Street, marking the first time that such a project has been undertaken on this historic site.

The project began in January when Lindsay Dalton, school programs manager at Historic Huguenot Street, contacted CITL teacher Jessica Pedro after a successful field trip to Historic Huguenot Street. Enlisting CITL reading specialist Catherine Pine, they launched the program, incorporating activities designed to inform students about the lives of Anthony and Susanna and the broader context of slavery in the North. East. This immersive learning experience included vocabulary lessons, video discussions on dehumanization, and creative assignments in which students wrote poems, songs, and historical fiction to reconstruct and honor the stories of Anthony and Susanna.

“Witness Stones Project is excited to work with Historic Huguenot Street and Ulster BOCES to share the important history of slavery in Ulster County. Working with Jessica and her team and seeing how they reimagined parts of the Witness Stones program to educate their students taught us how to use creative techniques to engage students of all levels,” shares Dennis Culliton, Executive Director of the Witness Stones Project. “I’m so impressed with their reimagining of the Witness Stones project.”

Historic Huguenot Street School Programs Manager Lindsay Dalton and Tours and Interpretation Manager Eddie Moran work with students at the Ulster BOCES Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning in Port Ewen as part of a collaborative initiative with the Witness Stones project. The project will culminate with the June 16 dedication of two plaques commemorating two enslaved people on Huguenot Street in New Paltz.

At the June 19 ceremony, selected students will present their stories, contributing to broader community recognition of these historical figures. Student work will also be displayed on a bulletin board at the Elting Library in New Paltz for a month following the ceremony.

Dalton is excited about this collaboration: “The students’ contributions will help restore the humanity of Anthony and Susanna and help us elevate them as important figures in New York’s early colonial history.” I think those attending this year’s Juneteenth celebration will be inspired by the students’ creations and perhaps even have more hope that future generations will continue to help bridge the divides and right the wrongs of the past. our country.

Pedro echoed this sentiment, adding, “This experience not only educates our students about an important part of our history, but also allows them to contribute meaningfully to the collective memory and commitment of our community to social justice.
For more information about New Paltz’s Seventeenth Anniversary Celebration, visit the Dr. Margaret Wade-Lewis Black History Cultural Center Facebook page or visit their website at mwlcenter.org.

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