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Roanoke Rapids Graded School District was proud to celebrate our veterans on Friday with a school holiday. 

We are indeed thankful for the dedication and sacrifices that our veterans and their families have made to secure our freedoms. 

Several of our staff members are veterans, and we are especially thankful for them as we celebrate Veterans Day.

This year, I am proud to serve on the Halifax County Semiquincentennial Commission. Composed of stakeholders from across Halifax County, the Semiquincentennial Commission is planning celebratory events that will mark the 250th Anniversary of the Halifax Resolves and the Declaration of Independence.

One of the Commission’s Education Sub-Committee’s projects is to connect curriculum and historic sites during the 250th Commemoration of the founding of our country 2024-2026. Leaders Karen Vaughan and Kathy White have planned and are leading some excellent activities for teachers and students in all three school districts. 

Elementary, middle, and high school teachers from the Roanoke Rapids Graded School District, Weldon City Schools, and Halifax County Schools are joining together this year to focus on the theme of liberty with emphasis on the Halifax Resolves and the Underground Railroad.

Since our elementary school teachers are working so hard on the science of reading (LETRS) professional development, RRGSD decided to focus on middle school (grade 8) and high school (American history) courses for this project. 

Our middle school teachers are Aron Crumb and Jamie Rook. Our high school teachers are Edward Gardner, Heather Daniels, and Amanda Powell.

On Thursday, September 21, 2023, Mrs. Vaughan and Mrs. White led professional development for all of the teachers on using primary source documents and helping students to read, understand, and analyze them. 

All of the teachers chose either the Revolutionary War/Halifax Resolves or the Underground Railroad to create an instructional plan for their classes that will teach students more about the signing of the Declaration of Independence and how Halifax was essential during this time period as well as how freedom developed over time. 

Our middle school students are learning more about the Revolutionary War/Halifax Resolves, and our high school students are focusing on the Underground Railroad.

One cornerstone to this project is to have all students get to experience Historic Halifax by traveling on-site and learning from the docents. 

On Wednesday, November 8, 2023, Principal Tom Davis and I joined our high school American history classes with Mr. Gardner, Mrs. Daniels, Mrs. Powell, and our Instructional Coach Eva Ott on their field trip.

We began our visit at the Visitors Center where we toured the museum and watched an informative video: “Halifax: Hub of the Roanoke.” 

At the time of the Revolutionary War and continuing until the late 1830s when the railroad bypassed it, Halifax was a booming commercial and political center, crossroads, river port, county seat, and social center — and it had over 900 residents! 

During the American Revolution in the spring of 1776, North Carolina's Fourth Provincial Congress met in Halifax in the spring of 1776. 

On April 12, 1776, that body unanimously adopted a document later called the "Halifax Resolves," which was the first official action by an entire colony recommending independence from England.

We continued our visit by touring the Sally-Billy House, which exemplifies the Federal-style homes built in Halifax from the 1790s to the 1820s. 

The students learned so much about the homes and their beautiful furnishings. We also visited one of the public buildings, the Clerk’s Office, which stored valuable court records. 

In one of the rooms, we learned how documents were printed and we got to experience printing some ourselves using the working press. 

We saw the preparations for the archeological excavation of the Courthouse, which sat elevated near the clerk’s office.

Lastly, we walked the Underground Railroad trail to the Roanoke River and learned about the Underground Railroad. We listened to an account of one man who crossed the river to freedom at the very place where we stood. We finished the trip with a picnic lunch outside on the beautiful grounds. We are so thankful for Mrs. Vaughan, Mrs. White, the Halifax County Semiquincentennial Commission, and the staff of Historic Halifax for making this experience so amazing for our students and teachers! If you have not visited Historic Halifax recently, I would highly recommend it!