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Kappa Rho social studies students curate display of Greencastle-Antrim school history

Shawn Hardy
Echo Pilot

Madison Henson likes to see her fellow Greencastle-Antrim High School students looking at a glass-front case outside the auditorium housing pieces of the past.

She and other Blue Devils Scholars, members the G-AHS chapter of the national social studies honor society Rho Kappa, recently curated a permanent display in the auditorium lobby.

It is one project as they preserve and catalog the vast amount of donated memorabilia, documents and artifacts that have been stored for decades in the farmhouse at Tayamentasachta, the school's center for environmental studies. They're also working on putting the information online and writing grant applications to aid their efforts.

Members of the Blue Devils Scholars, the Greencastle-Antrim High School chapter of the national social studies honor society Rho Kappa, from left, Abby Stouffer, Madison Henson, Emma Bathgate, Catherine Bowers and Kendall Burleson curated the display of school-related history outside the auditorium.

"We wanted it centered around the high school," said Emma Bathgate. "There are so many artifacts ... we picked the ones in best shape with a high school theme."

Like many in the community, they also are looking ahead to this year's Old Home Week celebration, Aug. 6 to 13, and how they can bring the past, present and future together.

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"This is my crew of workers," said Meagan Brockway, referring to Kendall Burleson, Catherine Bowers and Abby Stouffer, as well as Madison and Emma. Brockway is adviser to the Blue Devil Scholars with James Thomas.

Learning from the past

The display includes large 1890s diplomas, high school pennants, letterman patches, report cards, graduation items and photos.

Kendall said she liked learning about how schools and graduation worked in the past, while Emma added there were closing exercises she had never heard of.

Miss Jen. McKinnie's 1890 Greencastle diploma — measuring 15 by 18 1/2 inches — was signed by Principal John D. Harris and members of the school board. Old diplomas and other graduation items are now displayed in the lobby outside the Greencastle-Antrim High School auditorium.

Emma and her family love history and she said she feels more connected with her school through the small town artifacts.

"My grandfather is a huge history geek so I always have something to tell him," added Madison.

Brockway often uses the phrase "history geek" to describe herself and members of Rho Kappa. Asked if they are history geeks, all the girls nodded their heads.

Tayamentasachta and Old Home Week

The work has made Abby think about her town and how Tayamentasachta, commonly referred to as the school farm, came about.

A Stover family tree, including documents and pictures, was among the donations stored at Tayamentasachta. The students spent weeks reconstructing and arranging the disorganized paperwork for 11 or 12 siblings in the family that originally owned the property.

Members of the social studies honor society at Greencastle-Antrim High School hope to showcase the family tree of the Stovers, original owners of what is now Tayamentasachta, the school district's center for environmental studies, during Old Home Week 2022.

They hope to showcase the Stovers and possibly be the history experts at Tayamentasachta during Old Home Week. They also plan to spend the week recording individual memories of the Greencastle-Antrim community and attending the Reminiscing panel discussions that are part of the triennial celebration.

The Blue Devil Scholars are always looking to increase their engagement in the community, Brockway explained. They help clean, catalog and organize the Hometown Hero banners that line the streets of Greencastle and recorded interviews with veterans on Veterans Day.

The students are seeking grants to create traveling exhibits with items appropriate for each building level in the school district and plan to refresh the little free libraries in town with children's books.

Shawn Hardy is a reporter with Gannett's Franklin County newspapers in south-central Pennsylvania — the Echo Pilot in Greencastle, The Record Herald in Waynesboro and the Public Opinion in Chambersburg. She has more than 35 years of journalism experience. Reach her at shardy@gannett.com