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AMERICUS-SUMTER HIGH SOUTH STUDENTS PARTICIPATE IN ANDERSONVILLE HISTORICAL INTERPRETER APPRENTICE PROGRAM

STUDENT LEARN LIFE OF OLD ANDERSONVILLE
STUDENT LEARN LIFE OF OLD ANDERSONVILLE

AMERICUS-SUMTER HIGH SOUTH STUDENTS PARTICIPATE IN ANDERSONVILLE HISTORICAL INTERPRETER APPRENTICE PROGRAM

On March 10th and 11th, the sights and sounds of prison life returned to Camp Sumter military prison. Inside the historic stockade, men dressed in the shabby uniforms of Union prisoners struggled to cook coarse cornmeal and salt pork over meager fires. Smoke drifted lazily over the men as they discussed the weather, their hopes for prisoner exchanges and their desire for a real meal. Outside the prison walls, guards patrolled the perimeter, ever vigilant for escaping prisoners or Union sympathizers who might aid them. Artillery demonstrations and guard drills reinforced the serious climate of the prison that detained almost 45,000 men over 14 months of operation.
             The weekend marked Andersonville National Historic Site’s annual two-day living history event that brought together park staff, park volunteers, living history educators and re-enactors to tell the stories of Union prisoners and their Confederate captors. Just over a thousand park visitors gained personal insights on prison life from these dedicated individuals. This year was one of the best attended events in recent memory, according to long time participants from the Georgia Sharpshooters reenactment group.
             Presenting prison life is often an emotional and very personal experience for some of the re-enactors who are descendents of actual Union prisoners. The modern men come out to experience a hint of their heritage by sleeping on the same ground and suffering through the hardships of heat, boredom and less than appetizing food. This year, a descendent of a Confederate guard also stood watch where his ancestor had 148 years before.
The prison was also populated by some youthful faces this year, as the park introduced its first group of historical interpreter apprentices. A group of four boys from Americus-Sumter High School participated in the Historical Interpreter Apprentice Program (HIAP), every Saturday morning from mid-January until the culminating event of the living history weekend. During their Saturday sessions they studied the history of Andersonville, practiced ways to communicate historical information and observed other historic sites. Historically, Andersonville prison held a number of soldiers who were younger than 18, and HIAP participants David Busman, Carl Johnson, Jerhvon Pearman and Tye Scala shared their important stories. This new program was created not only to present a wider range of prisoner experiences but also to encourage young, local students to volunteer with the park throughout the year. The program was led by Ranger Stephanie Steinhorst and assisted by Americus-Sumter High School social studies teacher, Chris Barr. Funding for the program was made possible by a grant from the National Park Foundation. The park hopes to continue the program next year, and extend new opportunities to students in our area.
In addition to the youth interpreters and local re-enactors, programs were given by the artillery crew from Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, Ken Johnston, the executive director from the National Civil War Naval Museum in Columbus, GA, and Amanda Morrow from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, GA.

Here are members of the Historical Interpreters Apprentice Program (HIAP): David Busman, Tye Skala, Carl Johnson, Jerhvon Pearman and Chris Barr.




 
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