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Museum connects students with the past
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Judge Craig Lovin from the World of Coca-Cola looks at one of the projects. - photo by Jim Dean
Students at Piney Grove Middle School didn’t have time to spend the last day before spring break daydreaming about vacation.

Instead, they were busy Thursday showing visiting judges an impressive array of language arts projects.

The students created projects for an interactive museum after reading the novel “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry” by Mildred D. Taylor.

The novel follows the struggles of a 1930s African American family in Mississippi.

The students created projects based on what they had learned reading the book.

Most of the projects involved life in the 1930s, though some of the students drew parallels between the current economic woes and the Great Depression. 

One student wrote a song, “Market Crash,” recording it to the music of Monster Mash. 

“They’re really creative,” said seventh-grader Sophie Zhou, as she toured the museum. “They showed a lot of what happened in the past, and how it relates to the present.”

Judges reviewed the projects, which ranged from a computerized version of “New Deal Jeopardy” to a quiz that involved touching a light bulb to a piece of aluminum foil.

Judge Emily Hermans, school programs coordinator for the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, said she was impressed.

“They don’t always think about what goes into putting together an exhibit,” she said. “Having a hands-on component is really important.”

Assistant Principal Todd McClelland said the projects offered students a different way to learn. 

“Instead of the teacher telling the kids about it, they’re interacting and creating their own definition of what it was like to be in the South then,” he said.

Seventh-grade literature teacher Catherine Allen said she wanted the students to do as much on their own as possible. 

“I’m always impressed by my kids, when I give them more freedom, they come up with cooler stuff,” Allen said.

E-mail Jim Dean at jimdean@forsythnews.com.