FEATURE: Today is a great day to learn something new

Braylon Morgan sits on a stack of cannon balls at Fort Macon State Park in Atlantic Beach. (Contributed photo)

By Rebecca Jones, special to the News-Times

CARTERET COUNTY — The North Carolina 4th-grade social studies curriculum typically devotes a great deal of learning time to our beautiful state. Children learn about the geographic features of our state, how we have changed over time and what role industry and settlements may have played in those changes.

Lots of students from different counties make their way to Beaufort and Down East each year for field trips with their school. But COVID has halted those trips. Instead, children are learning and ‘seeing’ the sites virtually as their teachers try to make the most of this pandemic for their students.

This was the case for Braylon Morgan, age 9, a student of Mr. Matt Robinson at Sandford Creek Elementary School located in Rolesville.  Braylon, being a little overwhelmed from online learning, wanted to take a brain-break and come to see the sites that his teacher had so excitedly taught him. Braylon was especially excited about the Rum Keg Girl ghost in the Old Burying Grounds in Beaufort. He wanted to see first hand the grave that reads “Little Girl Buried in a Keg of Rum.” He had heard that at night the ghost of the girl can be seen running and playing between the graves. He also heard that locals and tourists put toys on the grave.

Braylon also learned about communities as they share their heritage of rich history of trade, civic and kin connections at the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center, located Down East on Harkers Island. Students get a clipboard that contain items to find as they tour the museum. Once they find them all they can choose something from the prize box.

Braylon got his wish and much-needed break. He toured the Old Burying Ground, finding the many toys folks had left on the grave during the Christmas season.  He learned a new word – apothecary. He made his way through three floors of the Core Sound Museum and found all the items on the list.

Fort Macon was on his list to see for a second time since, as Junior Ranger when he was 7 years old, Braylon visited the site while on vacation. Braylon even toured a stained-glass studio in Harkers Island to see how some items are made.  He saw first hand the beach nourishment project over at Atlantic Beach.

“It looks a lot different in the winter time than the summer,” says Braylon.

Virtual learning has it challenges, but a good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination and instill a love of learning. Just ask Braylon who wanted to see for himself some “living history.” Benjamin Franklin once said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”

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