New Hanover County fourth graders to learn about 1898 massacre

New Hanover County fourth graders to learn about 1898 massacre
Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 5:48 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Changes are coming to classrooms in New Hanover County as fourth graders will learn a bit more about a dark part of Wilmington history.

Starting this fall, fourth grade students in New Hanover County will learn the basics of what happened during the insurrection of 1898. Though the state titles the topic “Wilmington Race Riots,” teachers will simply call it “1898.”

“It’s related to a standard that basically talks about the way our state has changed with reform, revolution and resistance,” said chief academic officer Patrice Faison.

The state’s decision to suggest the topic for fourth grade curriculum doesn’t mean kids are learning about what happened any earlier than before. New Hanover County students first learn about the massacre in the 3rd grade with a walking tour. Now, fourth graders will continue learning the details of what happened inside the classroom.

“They actually might be doing a storyboard. They actually might write to [a hypothetical] newspaper from the perspective of different people,” said Faison. “You have to keep in mind, it’s fourth grade so it’s very age appropriate.”

Faison says it’s no different than teaching kids about the first colonies, Revolutionary War or other historic moments.

Hearing about the new curriculum has people like Cedric Harrison excited about what this could mean for the community’s future. Harrison offers bus tours to guide visitors through Wilmington’s rich Black history. Now, he hopes to welcome aboard 4th graders..

“We have been able to already give tours to kids and they’ve been having great feedback and great experiences,” said Harrison, who founded WilmingtoNColor. “We’d love to provide that service for the whole entire public school system.”

Faison says that’s a possibility if the tour lines up with teachers’ lesson plans. The important thing is making sure kids are prepared to one day help push America forward.

“Think about the trials and tribulations we’ve been through. That is why we are wonderful right now,” said Faison. “That is why we live in the greatest country. This helps our students see how everything relates.”

This isn’t the only curriculum change for the coming school year. New Hanover County is also adding a personal finance class and an art requirement.

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