Bethel Rural Community Organization's Historic Preservation Committee Initiates Local Lectures in Bethel Middle School
Bethel Rural Community Organization’s (BRCO) Historic Preservation Committee launched its initial local history lecture series in November in the Bethel Middle School classroom of eighth grade history/social studies teacher, David White. Visiting lecturer and Bethel citizen, Charles Cathey, gave a power-point presentation on Garden Creek Indian settlements and the Passenger Pigeon, for whom Pigeon Valley, Pigeon Gap, Pigeon Street, and Pigeon River are named. To commemorate American Education Week, the presentation also focused on the history of the local schools in Bethel from the days of the late 1800s school, Bethel Academy. Not only did the program’s education segment reveal interesting architectural details about Bethel’s early schools, but Cathey, in his presentation, also paid tribute to some of the outstanding teachers and principals who played a role in his life but also in the bridge building of Bethel High School as a small community institution of learning.
Middle school teachers incorporate a study of North Carolina history into the eighth grade curriculum, but rarely is there any significant focus on the local heritage of the area in which the students live. BRCO’s primary emphasis, in addition to farmland preservation, is on the preservation of local history, for which the group has received two North Carolina Society of Historians awards. Meshing the local history concerns of BRCO with local classrooms is a mutually beneficial endeavor. Assisting Cathey with the presentation to four eighth grades classes were Kendra Plemmons, Bethel Middle School Librarian, and Ernestine Upchurch and Evelyn Coltman, members of BRCO’s Historic Preservation Committee.
BRCO presented the DVD, Land of Promise, which focuses on Bethel’s agricultural legacy, and the DVD, Walking in the Footsteps of Those Who Came Before Us, which emphasizes Bethel’s historic heritage to Mr. White to use in the classroom and also to Mrs. Plemmons for the library. Cathey provided a permanent copy of his power- point presentation to be used by teachers and students.