EDHS students earn Youth Community Heritage Preservation Award

Town Planner, Rita Jabbour, and Councillor Morley Bowman presented EDHS grade 12 students Brian Neufeld, Josh Birch, and Erik Wolgen with the Youth Community Heritage Preservation Award last Thursday. Also pictured are the students’ grade 12 English Teacher, Mandi Scherer, and Principal, Mike Hawkins.

by Sylene Argent

Three Essex District High School students were presented with the Town of Essex’s Youth Community Heritage Preservation Award on Thursday, February 28 for having submitted outstanding creative works into the program.

  Through the program, local students were challenged to combine their creative prowess with local history.

  On behalf of the Essex Municipal Heritage Committee, Rita Jabbour, Essex’s Town Planner, congratulated local high school students Erik Wolgen, Josh Birch, and Brian Neufeld for having earned the Youth Community Heritage Preservation Awards.

  The winning students were in Mandi Scherer’s grade 12 English class at the local high school, who took on the task of creating and submitting creative works, reflective of local history, into the program.

  Scherer included this unique heritage project in her class curriculum as it gave the students an opportunity to get out of the classroom and walk around town to learn more about local history. The students were able to gather the Town’s history from staff at the Essex Railway Station and from Essex Centre’s many murals.

  She said the students seemed to have a lot of fun participating in the program.

  For this special assignment, Birch wrote a story called, “My Final, Abnormal Checkup,” which was about the Essex railway explosion where he explained the incident from the workers’ point of view. Wolgen wrote “The Tomato Family’s Mural,” which highlighted this agrarian industry as his mother used to farm this product in her youth. Neufeld wrote “The Wheels Stopped,” which was about Essex’ history, including the Essex Railway explosion. It also highlighted the evolution of the town from basically being created because of the rail lines to no longer having trains pass through but continuing to enjoy growth.

  The three award winners agreed they enjoyed participating in the unique writing assignment, not only because they got to be creative, but because they learned a little bit about the town’s history. Participating in the project also heightened their appreciation, and curiosity about local history. Neufeld noted he always did have an appreciation for heritage.

  The Town of Essex began looking at the significance of local history in around the late ‘80s when planning began to restore the historic Essex Railway Station. That appreciation for local history continued with the mural program, Councillor Morley Bowman said, who presented the awards to the students.

  Appreciating history means looking back and “realizing how we got where we are today. I am here to remind you all, you are a part of history as it goes on,” Bowman told the three grade 12 EDHS students who earned the Town’s Youth Community Heritage Preservation Award.

  During the February 19 meeting of Essex Council, Jabbour, who is also the Town’s liaison on the Essex Municipal Heritage Committee, took a few minutes to recognize history-minded groups and individuals. At this time, she announced the Youth Community Heritage Preservation Award winners and also presented the Community Heritage Preservation Award to the Essex & Community Historical Research Society (ECHRS) and the Harrow Early Immigrant Research Society (HEIRS) as part of this recognition program.

  Both groups, she said, were presented with the award to recognize their outstanding contribution to the preservation and celebration of local heritage.

  The awards presentation coincided with celebrating Heritage Week, which took place from February 18-24.

© 2021 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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