The Mosby Heritage Area Association (MHAA) is concluding another successful year of its 14-year-old outreach programming to area schools. MHAA has worked with 3,637 students from Grades 4-11 in schools across Loudoun, Fauquier, and Clarke counties as of late May, and is projected to reach over 4,000 students in 33 schools by the end of this school year. The 501(c)3 non-profit organization works for “preservation through education.”
MHAA’s educational programs cover various aspects of the heritage area’s prolific history, such as our 20th century Civil Rights landscape, slavery and the Underground Railroad, the American Civil War, and the heritage area’s involvement in the American Revolution. MHAA staff bring local history into the schools, using pictures, artifacts, and great historical stories to spark students’ interests to make them advocates of the historic landscape. Additionally, every student receives a historical scavenger hunt relative to their county, which prompts students to take their friends and family out on the region’s historic back roads, where they can touch, feel, and sense the history that happened down the street from where they live.
Aside from these in-school history lessons, MHAA has partnered with NOVA Parks to bring over 400 students from Loudoun and Clarke counties to several historic sites in one day during our annual Aldie Triangle Program. Split between two days in April, the staff and volunteers of MHAA and NOVA Parks brought history to life at Oak Hill, President James Monroe’s Loudoun County farm, the historic Aldie Mill, and historic Mt. Zion Church outside of Aldie. One teacher participant spoke to the program’s importance to his students. “All three stops on the triangle provide detailed, authentic information, but more than that, the people at each stop convey the human reality of the life and times of the Civil War era. This is an invaluable component, essential for our teaching.”
Also in 2016, MHAA, NOVA Parks, and Oatlands Plantation are conducting several other versions of the Aldie Triangle program, replacing Oak Hill with Oatlands, Loudoun’s largest plantation on the eve of the Civil War. Students from Woodgrove High School and Harmony Middle School will likewise be able to visit these three historic sites in one day while attending learning sessions on a variety of local history topics. MHAA feels strongly that historic sites make excellent classrooms. The visits will be part of a continuing learning experience that students will take beyond the trip. Woodgrove’s tri-site trip is the beginning of a year-end project where students will conduct their own research on a particular piece of Loudoun’s history and create a video about it that will be distributed to local historical sites and societies. Harmony Middle School’s program will be the capstone to their study of the American Civil War.
MHAA’s education programs all share a major goal: lighting the spark for students or adults by making them aware of the history around them. If they know what happened at the site they may drive past once a week, may work at, or even live in, they are more likely to be stewards of this fine historic landscape, keeping it as such for years to come. To learn more, visit the heritage area website, www.mosbyheritagearea.org and click “Pass It On.”