Capital 'Gains' Historic Walking Tour Thanks to Students
- July 2, 2008
It took a group of seventh graders to fill a gap in downtown tourism no adults had filled in years.The work of Melanie Hanley’s Creative Thinking class in the gifted program at GlasgowMiddle School led to something that was sorely missing in Baton Rouge:a historic walking tour of downtown.
With the help of two NationalCenter for Preservation Technology & Training (NCPTT) grants originally awarded in 2005 and 2006, classes each semester since have participated in the Capital Gains and Losses project.The project utilizes a large printer/copier, digital cameras, computers and other equipment to learn about urban development, urban planning, history, photography, editing, graphic design, publishing skills and problem solving.And the entire lesson centers on historical sites in downtown Baton Rouge.
“In 2004, The Advocate published a special business section about downtown.I used that as the basis for this class project; the fact that downtown had been virtually abandoned,” Hanley said.“We talked about what people were doing to revitalize downtown and used it as a creative problem-solving exercise.Then, as we talked, I realized the students really didn’t know much about downtown.
“Besides a field trip to the Capitol, Old State Capitol, Old Governor’s Mansion or the LASM, they had no idea there were so many historical buildings downtown.It was like a bolt of lightning hit me, and I realized I couldn’t start with what they didn’t know. But when I asked around about a map for a downtown tour of historic sites, no one had one.”
So the students created a tour themselves.First, the students set out to define the parameters of downtown.For their purposes, they set the boundaries from the Mississippi River to Interstate 10 at Eighth and Ninth streets then from North Boulevard to North Street and on beyond the Capitol.The next step was to define which buildings are on the National Historic Register, and what is involved in the process of getting listed on the Register.
Once that was done, a map was created of all the sites, and, after much research, they added interesting side notes, building nicknames, building proper names, addresses, significant dates and other information.The final step was the students taking a tour of downtown and visiting the buildings that were a part of their tour map.
Once brochures of their walking tour were created by the students, the class shared them with the city, the Foundation for Historical Louisiana and the Baton Rouge Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.That’s when the Foundation decided to create a more formal brochure for a downtown walking tour.The result:A slick, full-color map and brochure called “Baton Rouge City of Landmarks Walking Tour” published in the spring of 2007.
“The students’ work served as a catalyst for our own historic walking tour brochure,” said Foundation Executive Director Carolyn Bennett.“When the class presented us with the walking tour they had created, all of us at the Foundation looked at each other and said, ‘Well, if the kids can do it, we better do it, too.’We had a walking tour brochure in the past, but it had not been updated in years.”
“The Foundation has continued to be a resource since its education director, Peggy Hunt, secured a letter of support from Ms. Bennett for the first grant application,” Hanley said.“They open their doors to students each time we take the walking tour field trip.”
Most recently, students have created note cards featuring historic buildings downtown and information about them.They are for sale, and the proceeds benefit Glasgow Middle.
The Foundation printed their version of a downtown walking tour brochure with the help of the Convention and Visitors Bureau.“Landmarks Walking Tour” is available at the Foundation’s headquarters at the Old Governor’s Mansion on North Boulevard, at the Visitors Bureau on Third Street and at the Louisiana State Capitol.
Principal Brister in Washington, D.C., to Accept McKinley Middle School’s Second Blue Ribbon Award
On Tuesday, November 13, 2012, Principal Herman Brister (pictured, left) and the school’s Teacher of the Year, Lynn Williamson (right), were in Washington, D.C., accepting McKinley Middle Academic Magnet School’s National Blue Ribbon Award from U.S. Department of Education’s Director of National Blue Ribbon Schools Program Aba Kumi (center). The event, which recognized some 314 schools from across the United States, was held at the Omni Hotel. Click herefor story.
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