School leaders see value of local museum

Published 6:00 am Thursday, February 9, 2006

Following a tour of the facility Tuesday, local school officialswere impressed with the Military Memorial Museum and itspossibilities as a learning environment for students.

“It’s a treasure for our community and our children need to knowthat,” said Brookhaven School District Lea Barrett.

Barrett and Brookhaven Academy Headmaster Miller Hammill touredthe facility at the veterans’ request. Neither administrator hadtoured the museum before Tuesday.

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“We want to get the word out to students about the museum,” saidPaul Jackson, one of its founders. “The only students we’ve hadhere were from the arts school.”

Barrett and Hammill said it was an oversight they would like tosee corrected. Both said they would encourage their historyteachers to take field trips to the museum.

“I think teachers just haven’t thought about it,” Barrett said.”There’s no reason not to and every reason to make the visit.”

It’s important students understand the sacrifices made by themen and women within the museum’s walls, Jackson said. Not only dothey need to know the history, but most will find they are relatedto someone honored there, he said.

“We don’t have the biggest museum, but we feel it’s the mostlocal. All of these people,” he said, gesturing widely to encompassthe museum, “are from here.”

Barrett agreed and said the realization could have a tremendousimpact on a student’s sense of self and belonging.

“Sense of place is what makes a community, and it’s places likethis that give us that sense of place,” she said.

Hammill said it the importance of history really “hits home”after touring the museum and finding several of his relativesthere.

“That happened to me today. It reminds you of the personalaspect. It’s real people, and many of those real people wererelatives of theirs,” he said.

The administrators admitted it is difficult for many students tounderstand the reason to know and understand history.

“The challenge in education is to get the students to understandthe sacrifice that was made,” Hammill said. “There is a largegeneration gap there that must be overcome.”

Veterans and museum volunteers accompanied the administratorsduring the tour.

The administrators received several first-hand accounts ofevents depicted in many of the displays from veterans who werethere. The veterans said they could be available for school fieldtrips to relate their experiences.

“They can actually have the class here,” said Seth Allen, themuseum’s historian. “When you can show a student something that wasthere, it becomes real and more than a lesson.”

The museum is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.and on request. It is located in the historic train depotdowntown.