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.
Tonight we enjoyed a visit from Charles Markle, director of student financial services at Auburn University. Mr. Markle assists future and current college students with understanding the U.S. federal college loan program and types of federal financial aid available to students. He walked us through the process for filing a Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA), and he cautioned students about private companies that charge for services to customers who do not understand that the process is relatively simply and free.
Laney Payne and Chardae Caine, Auburn University students who are participating in the 2012 Appalachian Teaching Project, joined us, and Laney led a session on artist and former Tuskegee resident Isaac Scott Hathaway (1872-1967). Following her presentation, we divided students into groups with a college student and asked them a difficult question: What if today had been a day without art. What would you have missed? Art is all around us (architecture, music, signs, etc.), but we don’t often notice it unless it’s not there. Hathaway made history become art, and his accomplishments were important for his time and ours.
Since Hathaway was the designer of the first U.S. Coin to portray an African American (1946, Booker T. Washington), Laney created paper outlines of coins that allow students to complete the design with their own words and artwork. The art will be used to created buttons to be given away to college students from the Appalachian region when Auburn students travel to Washington, D.C. at the end of the month to report on their work.