Creative history lessons clean up 

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Clinton Junior High School social studies teacher Kelby McMath admitted he had to get his students past the “creepiness” of wandering around cemeteries, but soon they became invested in the class project and they learned about the lives of local Civil War veterans. 

Expanding upon two different projects done by teachers in nearby school districts, McMath created “The Cemeterian Project.”  

Working with Joey Long, executive director of the DeWitt County Museum, McMath and Long compiled  a list of Civil War veterans buried in DeWitt County cemeteries. Starting in Woodlawn Cemetery, McMath’s students selected Civil War veterans, researched their history, and shared their life stories. 

The first year of the project was supposed to be last year, but Covid-19 forced all teachers to regroup and pivot their lesson plans.  

McMath did just that and began studying grant writing in an effort to help fund this project for his classes. He earned a grant from Ancestory.com to allow full use of their resources as well as one from the Clinton Community Education Foundation (CCEF). 

Initially, the 8th students were skeptical about the project, McMath said, but then they “really started getting into it.” In addition to using Ancestory.com, they also searched newspapers.com. “They used to post everything in people’s obituaries,” McMath laughed. “And I mean everything!” 

• See the complete story in the Friday, May 28, print edition of the Clinton Journal or now in the Journal E-Edition.