Oct 4: Building Bridges in Macon County

Macon County high school juniors and seniors, many of whom are fulfilling requirements for Bridge Builders Alabama, meet every other Thursday night at Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church on Highway 81 between Notasulga and Tuskegee.  Auburn University undergraduates work alongside them, as they develop skills related to life, work, and college.  The program is funded in part by the Appalachian Regional Commission

Following chicken, mac-n-cheese, and salad, we worked hard tonight on several different projects.  Kendrick proudly reported on meeting Alabama Governor Robert Bentley in Huntsville on Wednesday, a result of his 2012 summer participation in the Appalachian Regional Commission’s Oak Ridge Institute, a two-week experience that students Bethany Reid and Richard Harry enjoyed as well.

Students were pleased to see AU grad student Raven Conwell, as well as Bridge Builders Alabama representative Porsche Holland.  AU students participating in the Appalachian Teaching Project (ATP) joined us and worked with students to complete a pre-test on financial literacy developed by the organization Liberty’s Legacy. Beth Givens will use resources from Liberty’s Legacy to develop future sessions on the important topic of finances.

Following the pre-test, AU student Austin Haisten presented on the life and work of artist Isaac Scott Hathaway, the subject of a collaborative project among AU students and the Tuskegee Human & Civil Rights Multicultural Center.  Hathaway, and African American artist, founded the ceramics department at Tuskegee University in the 1930s, taught one summer at Auburn Polytechnic Institute, as well as a number of other institutions, including Alabama State University.  Hathaway is remembered for busts and masks of famous African American leaders, as well for designing the first U.S. coins to depict African Americans.

Following the presentation, the ATP students led high school students in several different activities that connect to the work or life of Hathaway.  Kaleb Kirkpatrick led “Isaac” bingo, where different numbers on the bingo card correspond to aspects of Hathaway’s life.  Sierra Lehnhoff led students to paint miniature sculptures that will be used as prizes for bingo players at the Tuskegee Senior Center.  Maggie Moore led students to create animal masks.  Hathaway said that all humans have animal-like facial features, and the art project will be used in Notasulga’s kindergarten classroom.

Audrey Ross led two students to perform voice renditions of a 1939 Federal Writer’s Project interview with Hathaway.  Michael Gutierrez video recorded all of the activities, and what he captured will be used in a short film on Hathaway that will be used to introduce the public to the work of this important artist who called Macon County home.   

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