Monday, May 26, 2003

“So what’s going on here? What’s Shaw accusing the other white dude of doing?” -- “Stealin’ stuff. He’s blackmailing him.” -“Right!” [release pause button]

Despite having “World History” printed at the top of the roll sheets, Mr. G asked that all of his high school history classes finish watching the 1989 movie Glory. Using General Shaw’s letters as the primary source, it tells of the Massachusetts 54th Regiment, a unit of black men led by a couple of white dudes. Mr. G. left questions for the students to answer and show that they paid attention. They had trouble wading through some of the dialog. I paused it often to repeat lines and ask direct questions to get them to the questions the teacher posed.

I began class by checking to see what they remembered from Friday: What war is this? Approximately when was it? Like a predictable Jay Leno bit, I heard “World War II,” 1812, 17-something, 16-something. The later classes all got the war right, and all but the first class got the century right.

Most students gave themselves this snow day replacement day off, so I had classes of between three and eight people. I’m not sure if they seemed manageable because they are more mature than middle schoolers or because there weren’t many of them; so my questions about race, class, age and behavior continue to have only sketchy answers.

On my break, I started reading The Hours. Lovely prose. For lunch, the secretary invited me to join the faculty for a “picnic” lunch in the library. It’s the same library as at Moody Middle, just not renovated as aggressively. A nice, airy space with little mezzanine or balcony rooms.

Many members of the Upper Mattaponi Tribe, county officials, friends, and family gathered at Sharon Indian School on Sunday to dedicate the new highway marker that I researched. After speechifying in the school, we repaired to the roadside, in the dumping rain, and Ms. S. from the Department of Historic Resources, Chief Adams, and I whipped off the cover. My research, condensed to about 100 words, captured in metal to sit by the roadside for years to come. Pretty damn cool.

For the record, sign OC-28 reads:

Sharon Indian School served as a center of education for the Upper Mattaponi Tribe. In 1919, the King William County School Board built a one-room frame building and the students' families provided the furniture. The county replaced the original school with this brick structure in 1952. Before the integration of Virginia schools in the 1960s, Sharon provided a primary and limited secondary education. The students at Sharon Indian School had to attend other Native American, private, or public institutions, usually outside the commonwealth, to obtain high school diplomas. Upper Mattaponi students - and the Rappahannocks in the 1960s - attended school here until June 1965. It was one of last Indian schools to operate in Virginia.

Capital City weather: Let's see, it started raining again Thursday afternoon, while I helped set up the powwow; it rained Friday; it misted on Saturday, then cleared; it poured most of Sunday. This morning, I drove to Highland Springs through a rain-drenched, but clearing, deep-green and growing late spring morning.

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