The start of the new school year brought a partnership between the Santa Elena Foundation and Beaufort Middle School, an art-integrated school with Classical Studies program of choice led by instructors Dr. Brooks Thomas and Mrs. Melanie Blanton.
In the coming weeks, when students learn about the earliest years of American History and the explorations of the 16th century, Santa Elena will become a much more familiar term. The school itself is less than ten miles from the actual site of the 16th century Spanish settlement. And as the Foundation prepares to open the Santa Elena History Center in downtown Beaufort, the Classical Studies students will offer their perspective and insight on creating an interpretive center that captures young imaginations.
“The first week of school provided an exciting introduction to the relevant learning this partnership offers. The students are already deeply involved in the creative processes of planning how this history will be shared.” said Dr. Thomas.
The partnership will support the vision of both programs. Students at Beaufort Middle School will make connections with the community as leaders, thinkers, and good citizens while learning, promoting and preserving the history of the 16th century Spanish settlement of Santa Elena. Educational outreach is a key component of the Foundation’s efforts.
“This opportunity allows for hands-on, real world experiences for our students as readers, writers and historians,” Mrs. Blanton noted. Because the teachers collaborate on curriculum and weave key themes throughout a variety of subjects, the Santa Elena story will also engage students in their music, art, drama, English, Spanish, social studies, and science classes.
Forty Classical Studies sixth-grade students are immersed in this partnership, and the learning experiences have stirred excitement and commitment with eighth-grade teachers through their curriculum, South Carolina History. Additionally, academic arts teachers are planning ways students will integrate their learning through the creative process.
“Learning this missing piece of history has become a school-wide endeavor. By assisting in this local rediscovery of 16th century history, the Classical Studies program will build on the past to develop responsible, knowledgeable, creative 21st century citizens,” shared Carole Ingram, principal of Beaufort Middle School, “and the ripple effect will be felt throughout our school.”
In September, the students will have the unique opportunity to meet Spanish Count Alvaro Armada, the current Adelantado of la Florida and direct descendent of 16th Century founder of Santa Elena, Pedro Menendez de Aviles. This also sets the stage for another learning opportunity as Spanish Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 to October 15.
“Together we are learning much more about our country’s heritage and the ‘lost century’ of American history,” noted Dr. Andy Beall, Foundation Executive Director. “To have these bright, young minds engaged in the process is simply sensational, and we appreciate the partnership with Beaufort Middle School. We hope that all schools and textbooks will eventually share more information about this important part of American history.”