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Our View: 'Tales' is far more than entertainment

 

 

 

For the past 30 years, students at Mississippi School for Math and Science have distinguished themselves in many areas. 

 

Some even see dead people, to borrow a line from a movie. 

 

Friday, for the 28th year, a select group of MSMS students will present "Tales from the Crypt," which has become a popular part of Columbus Spring Pilgrimage. 

 

On four evenings during Pilgrimage, students adopt the roles of some of those interred in Friendship Cemetery. This year, the students will tell the stories of a Confederate Colonel who died in the battle of Shiloh, a female newspaper editor, an Irish immigrant tailor, even a former governor, all of whom were buried in the old cemetery in the 19th- and early-20th Century. 

 

Over the year, the students' enthusiasm for the project and excellent performances have charmed and informed visitors during the walking tour of the cemetery. 

 

If the value of "Tales from the Crypt" were confined to providing entertainment and historical information to tourists, it would be considered a worthy effort. 

 

But, in a real sense, it is the student performers who benefit most. 

 

In an era in which most of what passes for research is conducted through search engines, the students - for whom "Tales" is a part of their history curriculum - are learning the lost art of real research. 

 

Little is known of the people buried in the cemetery that are the subjects of the students' research for "Tales." 

 

In their effort to learn the stories of these people, students must navigate records of all kinds, poring through documents at courthouses, tax offices and the library. They are learning how to access history through a program that extends beyond the classroom. 

 

That idea is something that can be applied to many, if not all, academic subjects. When students apply what they learn in class to what they encounter in the broader world, they understand the greater context of the subject and, quite often, are inspired to learn independently. The materials they study become relevant to the world around them. 

 

"Tales of the Crypt" is great entertainment. 

 

But it is an even greater educational tool.

 

 

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