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Jesse Franklin Pioneers win awards

For the first time in several years, the annual Tar Heel Junior Historian Convention was held at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh on April 28, and the Jesse Franklin Pioneers chapter of the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History came home with a number of awards.

All totaled, the local group saw its members won nine individual categories, as well as one group award.

Projects focused on exploring, examining, and educating others on various history topics, and were submitted from chapters all across the state, with more than 9,000 participating students submitting projects this year. These projects take all forms from creative writing, photography, video documentary, magazine article writing, artifact search (investigating an artifact), and exhibit and visual art creation.

This year’s local winners are:

– Amelia Edwards, winner of the elementary division, Artifact Search. Amelia researched a family artifact, a pair of WWII bombardier gloves worn by her great-great-grandfather’s brother during the war. She learned a lot about this time in history as well as her family’s own history during her research, and the Tar Heel Junior Historian Association was so impressed with her work, they asked that the gloves be on display at the North Carolina Museum of History for the year to showcase her winning project.

– Paytin Key, first place intermediate division, video documentary with her video, Darkside of Biltmore. Paytin created a documentary that shares the ghost stories, haunted folktales, and true history of some of the darker events that took place at the Biltmore Estate.

– James Caudill, second place secondary division, creative writing, with his story, An Excursion to The White Sulphur Springs Hotel. James has been a part of the local club for several years, but he had never chosen to write a story for creative writing before. He took on this new task by writing a fictional tale about a journalist riding on one of the last rides on the historic “Dinky” train. Through interviews and immense research, he was able to tie fiction and local history together.

– Madeline Caudill, second place secondary division, visual art and exhibit, with her exhibit display on the Lumina Pavilion. Her project details the glory days and destruction of this iconic tourism destination in coastal North Carolina. She even built a model of the pavilion and lighted it up for her exhibit.

– Rickie Caudill, first place elementary division, photography in the commercial/industrial building category with his photo of the Main Oak Building. Inspired by this now fallen building, Rickie researched maps, historic documents, and even interviewed business owners on Main Street to bring the story of this building to life along with a great photo.

– Solomon Shipley and Rickie Caudill, first place elementary division, exhibit and visual arts for their project, The Mysterious Cropsey Murder. These boys played detective while they analyzed one of the statess most famous murder mysteries. Their board included an evidence file, clippings from court records, newspaper articles from the time, and red string tying all the suspects and evidence together. They even worked with other museums to make sure nothing was left out of their research.

– Kylie Jones and Adah Huff, first place elementary division, video documentary, for their video, The Truth About Tom Dooley. These girls were inspired by one of last year’s junior historian themes, music, and wanted to combine it with their love for a good mystery and folktales. They analyzed the true events that took place in North Carolina and created a ‘tell-all’ investigative documentary.

The local club was the prize winner for the History in Action project, doing a historic investigation of the Old Methodist Cemetery in Mount Airy. Club members analyzed the cemetery and graves, noted conditions and markings, and submitted their findings to the North Carolina Office of State Archaeology for their official records.

All of the projects in the contest were reviewed and judged by the Tar Heel Junior Historian Association, and exhibit projects were even brought to the museum in person to be judged, adding to the excitement. All of the students once again this year got to enjoy the joy and adventure of traveling to Raleigh, participating in workshops and activities, and most of all accepting their awards in person on stage.

“The Jesse Franklin Pioneers isn’t the largest of competing clubs, with a total of eleven students,” the museum said in announcing the results. “Our club is made up of students from elementary, middle, and high school, grades four through elevent, from local schools and home school groups.”

The students worked from September until March to complete individual and group creative writing, video, photographic, exhibit, and artifact search entries with well-documented research and a lot of creativity. The winning entries will be on display in the History in Every Direction: Tar Heel Junior Historian Association Discovery Gallery at the North Carolina Museum of History for the next year.

The Jesse Franklin Pioneers chapter, begun in 2006, is part of the state-wide organization created by the state legislature in 1953 to promote youth interest and involvement in state and local history. Thousands of fourth through twelfth graders participate in nearly 200 clubs in 65 counties. The local club has won multiple awards in its 17-year existence including chapter of the year, advisor of the year, and many group and individual accolades. The Mount Airy franchise of Chick-fil-A has been the club’s business sponsor for several years, and helps make this club a success.

“We are extremely proud of all of our junior historians this year with how hard they have worked and how much they have learned, and we hope that even more students join us next year,” museum officials said.

Club meetings will resume in September and are held every Thursday afternoon during the school year for students fourth grade and up. Call or email Cassandra Johnson, director of programs and education, at 336-786-4478, extention 228 or for more information.



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