Letter From Chuck: 8th-grade Scholars Find Strength in Their Voices

Dear Creative Minds Community:

When we, as educators, encourage students to think critically and channel their ideas and opinions into plans for action we help them to discover that their voices matter.

Last semester, our 8th-grade scholars embarked on a Confederate-monument action project. One of the goals of the project, Mr. Charrier says, was for scholars “to like learning, be curious, and see that they have strength in their own voice.”

The project began as a dive into US history, with 8th-graders researching and documenting the historical context for Confederate monuments and the reasons these monuments were erected.

Scholars developed a proposal to replace the statue of Confederate General Albert Pike in Judiciary Square with a memorial to the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, and they coalesced their arguments into 60-second videos.

The 6888th Battalion has a distinct and revered place in US history. This unit of 855 African American women was the only all-female unit deployed to Europe during World War II. Its commanding officer, Major (later Lieutenant Colonel) Charity Adams, had been the first African American woman officer of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, at a time when the armed forces were still segregated.

We are so fortunate, and very honored, that members of the 6888th and the producers of The Six Triple Eight, a documentary about the battalion, are joining us on February 27 to screen the film and share their experiences.

Our scholars, fresh from producing their own videos, will hear from the producers at Lincoln Penny Films about creating a feature-length documentary. Scholars will hear firsthand accounts of resilience in the face of injustice and brave resistance against discrimination.

What is the difference between researching history and meeting the people who have lived it? It’s a difference of engagement, one that goes beyond honoring our heroes with a poster or a book report.

In-person engagement with the larger world, outside the classroom, is inspiring. It means that our students are deeply exploring history, learning from it, and acting on what they learn as they discover their power for effecting positive change. This taking action is what gives me great hope for our future.

Our February 27 event will be a true community, cross-generational affair. The Armed Forces Retirement Home is generously lending its auditorium, and AFRH residents will join our scholars. We’ll share updates and images from the event—stay tuned to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

I’m delighted about how this 8th-grade project has grown beyond the classroom. Thank you to Mr. Charrier, Mr. Caraway, and Mr. Dennison for giving our middle school scholars these transformative opportunities. I look forward to witnessing how Creative Minds 8th-graders go on to make a positive and lasting impact on our world.

Chuck Jackson
Creative Minds Executive Director