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Dusting off the memories
Educators want to preserve history of Pine Street Elementary School

While the Thomson-McDuffie Museum is in the works on Main Street to preserve the county's history, a different museum is taking shape a few blocks away on Martin Luther King Street.

CrossRoads Learning Center is housed in the old Pine Street Elementary School building. Principal Steve Strouble wants to use that as a learning tool for his students, and make the halls of CrossRoads a museum of Pine Street Elementary.

"The rationale is really two-fold. It is a service to the community, and also so that our kids can understand some of the history of our area," Mr. Strouble said. "We understand that it is a rich history here, and we just want to revive that history and give the kids an opportunity to understand it and grow from it, academically."

Behavioral Specialist Veronica Cunningham and Language Arts Teacher Sherika Warthen are spearheading the project. Ms. Cunningham used to attend the old elementary school in fourth through sixth grades.

"I remember my older teachers telling us you never know where you are going to end up at, and I've heard that life is a 360, and it certainly has been that for me," she said.

After 15 years in broadcasting, Ms. Cunningham returned to the school because she wanted to give back to the community.

"I think that working here at the alternative school gives me an opportunity to touch those kids that I wouldn't come in contact with in a regular, normal setting," she said.

The museum idea started because people stop by the school and share memories of when they used to attend there. Mr. Strouble said he would like his students to interview these people and write their stories, combining the experience of preserving history with language arts class.

Ms. Cunningham and Ms. Warthen have been going through the attic of the building, looking for mementos of the past, and they hope former students will bring in what they have. They are looking for old class photos, report cards, certificates, etc. that they can scan and print. Ms. Warthen said it would be helpful if someone has an old yearbook the students could borrow to thumb through the pages.

"Anything that will give us some background about what happened in this building when it was Pine Street Elementary," she said.

The teachers plan to hang copies of the mementoes in the halls of the school and make what Ms. Cunningham describes as "a living history museum."

"We are going to have pictures all over the wall. Everywhere that we have a space, we are going to turn it into a history of Pine Street School," she said.

The school was built in 1936 as McDuffie County Training School. A few decades later, the school was renamed Pine Street Elementary School. It became Crossroads Learning Center Alternative School in 1995.

Former students may visit or call the school at 706-597-2522, Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Web posted on Thursday, October 26, 2006

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