Students see freedom document
By Nancy Kemp | Blount County Schools
One hundred and fifty years ago, Abraham Lincoln signed the famed document that freed slaves in states that remained in rebellion.
Last week, 83 Walland Elementary School students and 11 staff members traveled by charter bus to Nashville to see an original Emancipation Proclamation and absorb its special place in history.
The Tennessee State Museum in Nashville was the only stop in the Southeast that the historic document could be seen. When Walland Principal Phyllis Garner saw the opportunity to see the original Lincoln-signed document, she encouraged fifth-grade social studies teacher Saundra Pitt to pursue this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The school received word in November that it had won the lottery to see the Emancipation Proclamation exhibit and spent the remaining weeks raising money for the trip. Interested students were asked to bring a $10 donation, and the school raised $500 with a dance, plus some private contributions for two chartered buses to safely deliver the children to Nashville and back.
The Tennessee State Museum’s Civil War Exhibit was all the students dreamed it would be and more, Pitt said. Many were excited about seeing Lincoln’s signature on the 150-year old document while others enjoyed seeing the history they study coming to life.
“I liked seeing the Emancipation Proclamation with Abraham Lincoln’s signature and knowing that he touched that paper!” said fifth-grader Paige Scott.
In addition to the Emancipation Proclamation, students also viewed the original 13th Amendment. Fifth-grade students were aware of the importance in history of these documents through their study of standards built around the Civil War. From the museum, the Walland group was able to walk to the state Capitol for a guided tour and then see the Tennessee House of Representatives chamber.
“The students and I are so appreciative of Ms. Garner for making this trip happen,” Pitt said. “While I was thrilled about seeing the original Emancipation Proclamation, the most awesome part was watching the excitement and interest of the children. It was a dream come true.”