WILMINGTON — Fourth-grade students from Wilmington’s Holmes, Denver Place and East End elementary schools learned about the experiences of enslaved persons associated with the Underground Railroad last week when they went to college.
The Meriam R. Hare Quaker Heritage Center at Wilmington College hosted the 243 fourth-graders over two days of programming developed by 2016 WC graduate Dylan Hammond.
Complementing Hammond’s instruction were other sessions led by Ruth Brindle, QHC curator; Dr. Luis Sierra, assistant professor of history; and Timothy Wiederhold, a member of the College’s admission staff.
Hammond, who will start his graduate studies in museum management at St. John’s University in New York City this fall, developed the program in 2015 as part of an internship with the Quaker Heritage Center.
“Dylan had a background in history and education studies, and an interest in putting the program together,” Brindle said, noting that part of Hammond’s charge was to convince the fourth-grade teachers the programming would be of value to their students.
She said the program dovetailed with the students’ study of the Civil War, slavery and the Underground Railroad, and gave many an introduction to Quakers’ work as abolitionists as the nation faced the divisive and vexing slavery question.
“It worked out really, really well,” she added.
In addition to the small group individual sessions, each day’s activities culminated with a portrayal of abolitionist/humanitarian Harriett Tubman (1822-1913) by Dr. Annette Jefferson of Columbus.
Brindle said she’s presented in many elementary school classes over the years, but to have students visit the College offered them greater insight into both the Underground Railroad and the institution that been in their city since 1870.
“It’s a different dynamic having the kids on campus, where maybe we planted some seeds that got them thinking about going to to college,” she said. “They loved their experience here.”