Mansfield Middle School grade 8 students are participating with the Witness Stones Project which “seeks to restore the history and honor the humanity of the enslaved individuals who helped build our communities.” Begun in Guilford, CT, Witness Stones across four states now memorialize enslaved people who lived and labored within local communities.
Mansfield Middle School students are unveiling a stone at Mansfield Public Library on Monday, June 13 at 5:00 PM, a result of their research and creative expression on the topic of slavery. The project centered on identifying an enslaved person from Mansfield, and students learned about a man named Titus who lived in this community in the mid-1700s.
The year-long project started within the Social Studies curriculum then evolved into an English Language Arts project. In Language Arts classes, students invested up to three months working from their Social Studies research notes, first to create written pieces, and then interpreting through art. A “gallery exhibit” in May was powerful – students’ learning through the project yielded collages, videos and cards displayed along with personal writing such as letters, newspaper editorials, essays, and poetry.
Teacher Rochelle Marcus explains, “We encouraged students to consider what they wanted their audience to think and feel, and how their artwork could be unique. Often students were surprised at what they were able to accomplish given their hard work.”
A compilation of the project and the students’ body of work will be shared on the MMS website. Student representatives also summarized their project before the Mansfield Town Council in May. The Witness Stone unveiling will include student performances and readings