CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (NEWSPLEX) -- Local high school students are getting a history lesson that is more relevant now than ever.
Albemarle, Western Albemarle, and Monticello high school students are doing research to understand the role monuments and statues play in their communities. The research is part of a year-long project called “Let ‘Em Shine,” which aims to teach students about the creation, significance, and history behind memorials.
The students will be conducting research at a number of different monument sites. On Tuesday students visited Charlottesville’s Emancipation and Justice parks, the Jefferson School, and the Zion Cemetery. Students will also be travelling to Richmond and Washington D.C. later in the school year.
This project is funded by a $20,000 research grant which the schools received from the National Writing Project in Berkeley, California.
The goal of the field trips is helping students learn more about the history of the monuments. It went a long way helping one student understand the current statue controversy.
“I’ve always felt that it wasn’t a big bother to me, because, I mean it’s a statue, it’s showing our history,” said Albemarle High School junior Lauren Burton. “But then again, I understand the story behind it and how different things may hurt different people. But to me, I feel like it’s a major part of history.”
Another student said the field trip helped him stay open to understanding differing interpretations of these kinds of monuments.
“The Robert E. Lee thing, a lot of people disagree and a lot of bad things happened about that statue,” said Bruce McClain, also a junior at Albemarle High School. “But at the same time, sometimes you just want to be all ears just to hear people’s point of view.”
According to Brandon Isaiah, an American Fusion teacher at Albemarle High School, showing students these historic memorials and allowing them to form their own opinions is a key part of their education.
“I just think it’s important for us to help continue to facilitate information to these kids," Isaiah said. "They are our future. We continue to give them this information and we hope that they develop their own perspectives and come up with solutions for how we can make this world better, and continue to come together as a country.”