Ulster BOCES Students collaborate with Witness Stones Project and Historic Huguenot Street for Juneteenth Event

Posted 6/13/24

Students from the Ulster BOCES Center for Innovative Teaching & Learning (CITL) at Port Ewen will be participating in a series of educational activities as part of a collaboration with the …

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Ulster BOCES Students collaborate with Witness Stones Project and Historic Huguenot Street for Juneteenth Event

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Students from the Ulster BOCES Center for Innovative Teaching & Learning (CITL) at Port Ewen will be participating in a series of educational activities as part of a collaboration with the Witness Stones Project—a non-profit educational initiative whose mission is to restore the history and honor the humanity of the enslaved individuals who helped build our communities— and Historic Huguenot Street in New Paltz. Together they will commemorate the lives of Anthony and Susanna, two individuals who were enslaved at Huguenot Street in the 1600s. The collaborative project aims to deepen students’ understanding of slavery in the region through a mix of storytelling, historical fiction, poetry, and song.

The project will culminate in a special Juneteenth public celebration at Historic Huguenot Street on June 19, where students will present their work and pay tribute to Anthony and Susanna. During the ceremony, two memorial stones will be dedicated on Huguenot Street, marking the first time such a project has been undertaken at this historic site.

The project began in January when Lindsay Dalton, School Programs Manager at Historic Huguenot Street, approached CITL teacher Jessica Pedro after a successful field trip to Historic Huguenot Street. Enlisting the help of CITL reading specialist Catherine Pine, they initiated the curriculum, integrating activities designed to educate students about Anthony and Susanna’s lives and the broader context of slavery in the Northeast. This immersive learning experience included vocabulary lessons, video discussions on dehumanization, and creative assignments where students crafted poems, songs, and historical fiction to reconstruct and honor the stories of Anthony and Susanna.

“Witness Stones Project is excited to work with both Historic Huguenot Street and Ulster BOCES to share the important history of slavery in Ulster County. Working with Jessica and her team and seeing how they have redesigned parts of the Witness Stones curriculum to educate their students has taught us how to use creative techniques to engage students of all abilities,” Witness Stones Project Executive Director Dennis Culliton shares. “I am so impressed by their reimagining of the Witness Stones Project.”

At the Juneteenth ceremony, selected students will present their narratives, contributing to a broader community recognition of these historical figures. Students’ work will also be displayed on a bulletin board at Elting Library in New Paltz for a month following the ceremony.

Dalton is excited for the collaboration. “The students’ contributions will help restore Anthony and Susanna’s humanity, and help us raise them up as important figures in New York’s early colonial history. I think that the attendees of this year’s Juneteenth celebration will be inspired by the student’s creations, and maybe even become more hopeful about future generations continuing to help heal divides and fix the mistakes of our country’s past.”

Pedro echoed this sentiment, adding, “This experience not only educates our students about an important part of our history but also empowers them to contribute meaningfully to our community’s collective memory and commitment to social justice.”

More information about the New Paltz Juneteenth celebration can be found on the Dr. Margaret Wade-Lewis Black History Cultural Center Facebook page or visiting their website at mwlcenter.org.