Over 100 8th graders are on a mission to tell the story of the War Between the States, but they want to do it through the eyes of some of the soldiers who fought in those battles. That’s why they were in Arbor Vitae Cemetery on August 23. They were visiting the graves of some of Madera’s Civil War veterans.
Armed with pencils and note cards, the young sleuths roamed up and down the rows of tombstones looking for those heroes from our nation’s past. After two hours of searching in the breathtaking heat, they came away with the knowledge that 31 old soldiers are resting in peace in the beautifully manicured cemetery.
With each discovery, they recorded all the facts the old military markers provided: names, states from which they served, and their regiments, companies, and branch of service. Then they returned to their classrooms to continue their search, but now they will have to rely on computers and library archives.
The plan is to have a division of labor in which three or four students will be assigned to each soldier. They will comb the internet looking for information about their soldiers. By the end of the year, each group will be ready to write a biographical sketch of their soldier’s march through the Civil War. These stories will then be compiled into an anthology on Madera’s Civil War soldiers as seen through the eyes of the young historians who marched through that conflict with them.
Participating in the Madera Method project are students and teachers from Dixieland (Perry Jensen), Eastin-Arcola (Scott Gandy), and La Vina schools (Samuel Colunga).
Originally published in the Madera Tribune, October 21, 2022