J-D to walk the Freedom Trail

An exhibit featured this summer at the New York State Fair Pan-African Village captured the attention of Willie Dowdell, vice principal at Jamesville-DeWitt High School. Dowdell spoke with the exhibit coordinator, George Sands, about bringing it to the students. Sands said it could be arranged -- at no cost to the school.

Next week, the Freedom Trail display, which presents artifacts from and literature about the Underground Railroad, will fill the main foyer in the high school's gym.

"The exhibit consists of how Africans got here, why the Africans were brought here, how they lived, why they wanted to leave the places they were and how they did so," Sands said. "It talks about the importance of New York state in the Underground Railroad. It tells the true story from a positive outlook."

Sands is the chair for Forging the Freedom Trail Project Foundation. He said this is the first time the exhibit has been to a school.

"I never tour with the exhibit," he said. "I take it where people ask for it and it costs nothing to bring it for people to see."

Last summer was the first time the exhibition was shown at the Pan-African Village at the State Fair. Sands said the foundation is invited back for 2008.

The students behind the project

The newly formed Student Union Club, comprised of six girls, is the prime reason the school is having the exhibit. Without the club's commitment to raising awareness through academic events, Dowdell, who is the club's advisor, may have walked away from the educational opportunity.

The main reason for forming the club, according to junior Samantha Coleman, is because other clubs within the school aren't fulfilling their needs.

"We started our own little student union and are doing some of the things we wish our clubs would do," she said.

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