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Youth enjoy ‘History and Tourism’ fun

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the great success of our “History and Tourism” day on Nov. 19 for the 18 11th-grade members of our first Youth Leadership Natchez class!

This new program, sponsored by the Education Committee of the Chamber of Commerce, brings students from all the high schools of Natchez together one day each month throughout the 2013-2014 school year for an immersion experience in some part of the community.

The students enjoyed a terrific day of exposure to some of what draws thousands and thousands of visitors each year to this beautiful little city. Much appreciation to David Wyrick from the Natchez National Historical Park staff for his assistance with logistics throughout, and to Beverly Adams from Alcorn for her photography skills.

Special thanks to Anna Byrne and the City staff at the Natchez Visitor Center, who provided refreshments and a special showing of “The Natchez Story” movie at the beginning of the day, and to Hannah Durkin for designing an interactive social media activity that really engaged the students throughout the day in recording their adventures. Congratulations to Allison Sullivan of Natchez High School, whose photos captured the most “likes” by the end of the day!

Thanks to Mayor Butch Brown and to Sabrena Bartley who provided a city trolley to ferry the students around town for the morning, and to Ms. Dolores, our expert driver. Kudos to Betty Lou Hicks, who shared many fascinating stories during a quick march through the City Cemetery on a chilly morning.

The students made a brief stop at the Forks of the Road exhibits, then on to Melrose, where they explored a furnished slave cabin, then had a quick tour through the mansion — with special thanks to National Park Service Rangers Melissa Tynes and Stephen Don.

Then it was on to an early fried chicken lunch at the Stanton Hall Carriage House restaurant, courtesy of the Chamber of Commerce — maybe the best fried chicken I ever ate! Thanks to Chef Bingo for taking good care of us.

Our last trolley ride dropped us on Main Street at the NAPAC Museum, where we enjoyed the exhibits and intro by Darrell White and the presence of Ser Seshsh Ab Heter-CM Boxley in full USCT uniform.

After a quick walk down Wall Street and look at one of the Natchez Trails panels, the students were held spellbound at the William Johnson House by NPS Park Guide Barney Schoby’s compelling account of the facts and issues of Johnson’s unique life as a free man of color in antebellum Natchez. The students voted the William Johnson House the No. 1 most significant experience of the day.

And last, but certainly not least, thanks to our Supervisor and County Agent David Carter for his leadership throughout this year-long program, and for arranging the day’s final adventure: a horse-drawn carriage ride through downtown.

It was a great day, indeed! Our community will be in good hands with such promising new leaders among us.

 

Kathleen McClain Jenkins

Natchez National Historical Park Superintendent