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Carroll County’s history came alive March 29 at Cartmell Elementary, when fifth grade students presented CBC News.
Principal Doug Oak welcomed everyone to the “original production” which gave audience members “59 minutes of history.” He said what they were about to see was “real history,” and added that, “many people and events you will recognize.”
The production was arranged in the form of a news cast called “59 minutes” and contained several segments. The news anchors introduced the program, reenacting several stories for the audience. The history lessons started with information about Port William, the seat of Gallatin County, which was later renamed Carrollton when Carroll County was formed.
During the first news segment, the old stone jail was the setting for a story which involved a shooting. The doctor in the piece was played by 11-year-old Elizabeth Lester. Lester said she wants to be “an actor and singer” after she graduates. After doing the production she learned “sometimes you have to put a lot of expressions in words instead of just reading them.” She enjoyed playing the doctor, and “hanging out with friends,” during the four days of practice.
While the production involved most of the fifth grade, Lester said that the students “actually auditioned” for the speaking parts. She said that before they started work on the piece, they “researched Carrollton’s history.”
Another story was set at the Butler Turpin Houseand was a reenactment of the donation of a painting of Percival Butler. According to Jonica Ray, instructional coach at Cartmell Elementary, “this scene was added to honor the great work Evelyn ‘Tricky’ Welch contributed to the Butler Turpin House.”
Eugene Robinson’s Floating Palace’s visit to the Carrollton Landing was depicted, as well as a plane crash that occurred at Butler Lake. Local resident Jim Fothergill was on duty at the lake as a lifeguard at the time of the crash. A local dentist, Dr. Cornelius, and his niece were killed when their small plane hit newly installed power lines.
The audience also saw ree-nactments of the 4th Calvary Reunion that took place in Carroll County and a tribute to Carrollton’s own James Tandy Ellis.
Artist in Residence Bob Ford assisted the students in the segments depicting Carroll County’s history. Students who were in the fifth grade 10 years ago may recognize the production because they did a similar one the last time he was here. Ford enjoyed using his “theater skills to teach history.”
“The students found the stories,” Ford said, and “added new segments” this time around. He credited the “local historical society and individuals” for the information which was the basis of his production. He said Welch was a “great resource” 10 years ago,” and became “part of the story,” so theclass wrote a tribute scene to her that Ford called “outstanding.”
Ray said the school hired Ford because he had “worked with our students on several occasions in the past. It was a great learning opportunity for our students because the process started with students researching the history of Carroll County.”
She said it was a unique experience because “the students actually put on a full production containing seven acts in just four days.” However, she believed the most interesting part was the student’s portrayal “of actual community members, some of which were able to attend the play.”
“This is an exciting night at Cartmell,” Ray said, “and it is an experience our students will remember long after they graduate.”