Students awarded for work on Civil War gravesites
Current and former Centennial students who participated in the project include (from left): row 1-Corey Bell, Abigail Gibson and Austin Carlier; row 2-Cory Kountz, Dan McClaskey and Zach Bailey. Not pictured: Robert Whitehead.
For the second year in a row, a group of students from Centennial High School have won an award for helping to preserve a piece of the past.
The young people -- three current seniors at Centennial and four now in their first year at college -- received the Paul E. Young Jr. Student Award from the Columbus Landmarks Foundation during a ceremony held last week at the Lincoln Theatre.
"Each year, Columbus Landmarks honors individuals and institutions that have made exceptional strides in promoting historic preservation and producing quality urban design in central Ohio," according to a Columbus City Schools spokeswoman.
"Centennial students and staff are being honored for their work throughout the 2012 school year in the preservation of grave sites of Civil War soldiers in Green Lawn Cemetery and the research allowing 26 graves to receive stone markers from the Veteran's Administration."
"These are big granite stones," boasted Nancy Clendenen, media specialist at Centennial who worked with the current and former students on the project, along with Amanda Nelson of the Ohio Historical Society.
Those honored last week with the Paul E. Young Jr. Student Award, named for the foundation's founding trustee and a professor of architecture at Ohio State University, included Clendenen and Nelson along with Kent State University freshmen Corey Bell and Daniel McClaskey; OSU freshman Zachry Bailey; Wright State University freshman Abigail Gibson; and Centennial seniors Austin Carlier, Robert Whitehead and Cory Kountz.
According to the association, the award "honors a student or group of students for a program or project that has fostered discovery of a new dimension of the city's architectural and historical legacy, while promoting the cause of historic preservation or improving the built environment."
A group from Centennial, also working with Nelson and Clendenen, received the same award in 2011 for their efforts in getting an historic marker for Hanford Village. Although much of the community was destroyed during the construction of Interstate 70, Centennial students in 2009 did research and got an historical marker for the remaining portion of what was one of only two areas in the country built as a subdivision for African-American veterans returning from World War II.
"It was one of the few places that had the African-American postwar housing development," Clendenen said.
When Nelson and her mother, Kathy, approached Clendenen last year to see if students might be interested in taking on another project, she didn't hesitate.
"I said, 'Well, heck yeah,' " Clendenen recalled.
For the project, Clendenen sought out students interested in history. They did research on Ancestry.com and in the archives at the Ohio Historical Society along with field trips to identify the grave sites, she said.
Their efforts culminated in a "Boys in Blue" historical dedication ceremony at Green Lawn Cemetery July 21.
"I have always thought that the partnering with the Historical Society is just a wonderful opportunity with the students," Clendenen said.
"They are actually doing something in the adult world. This is not a simulation. This is a real-life experience, and what they do impacts history and it impacts the community.
"When they come back when they're 50 years old with their children or grandchildren they can say, 'I helped put those markers up.' "