Yes, let me put it all together for you. I took my class on a field trip….wait….yes….to the cemetery. Although they were a tad bit hesitant, the overall experience was memorizing for most. Even the teachers involved were touched in some way. The students were assigned a scavenger hunt to complete while at the cemetery. Before leaving on this “walking” field trip, the class discussed some of the things that they were likely to find: bodies in one grave site, exposed grave sites, grave sites of young children, unmarked graves, Woodmen of World markers, and even animals that roam. While they were open to the information, it wasn’t until they were at the cemetery that they began to understand the true meaning of the words. Mysteries abounded. They were confused and saddened by the twin sister that died on the same day, children in one family that all died young.
They also learned about the people and the place in which they lived. Some found the tombstones of individuals from other countries and tombstones marked for the old name of our city. History, family, and adventure all in one field trip. There were those that found the information factual and interesting, and then there were those that were touched and saddened by the lack of care.
After seeing the tomb with exposed bones (above), one student began arranging a process in his mind for restoring the site. He was hurt by the fact that anyone could see into the tomb, and in our area of the country where hurricanes can cause caskets to float, this was urgent. Although many tombstones were marked “Gone But Not Forgotten”, through observation it was evident that this is not always the case. While visiting the cemetery, a visitor was able to provide even more historical information about the land the people that donated it. He was bright spot in our day. Once the scavenger hunt was complete, we went to a local restaurant for lunch, but the students were still talking about the cemetery when we returned the school.
The last day of the field trip was difficult for me in one sense and a gift in another. On that Friday morning I said good-by to my sweet Missy Belle (above). She would have been seventeen in January. The field trip kept my thoughts away from what I would feel when I returned home, and made the day not as melancholy.
Overall, the week walking to and from the cemetery was one of the best field trips I have taken. I hope the students feel the same.
A week of good-byes and memories………