A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Newport students help renovate historic Southgate School as part of senior service project

By David Kubota
NKyTribune reporter

Seniors from Newport High School recently helped with renovations at the Newport History Museum in the historic Southgate School. As part of a senior service project, the students cleaned, painted and landscaped the site.

Bonnie Stacey, a media arts teacher at Newport High School, led the project. Connections within the city of Newport gave her students the opportunity to work on the project.

Seniors from Newport High School recently helped with renovations at the Newport History Museum in the historic Southgate School. (Photo by David Kubota)

“All these students live in Newport, and so they’re all doing work that will benefit the city they live in,” Stacey said. “This is a unique experience that offers a different kind of learning.”

Before the students began their work, they were given a brief lesson over the historical significance of the Southgate School. The building was originally a school for African Americans during the “separate but equal” educational period. Now the building is the site of the Newport History Museum.

Following their work on the property, students will have to reflect upon their experiences. The project is part of a community service initiative required to graduate.

“Every single one of the students will go and speak to the Board of Education about their experiences here today,” Stacey said.

Students could be seen moving large pieces of furniture, painting fences, and finishing floors.

Jordan Peoples, a senior at Newport High School, mentioned how much this physical work is different from that in the classroom. Peoples had already helped move furniture from the basement and wipe down steps.

“I’m hoping to help the community, and help restore everything for the museum,” Peoples said.

Mercedes McCullah, another student, painted a fence in front of the building. She knew of the building itself but never realized its historical significance.

“I knew what the building was because I would always see it when I would go to 4th Street,” McCullah said. “But working and being involved in the community, it just makes you feel good.”

Also painting the fence was Kiara Wheeler, another student who was hopeful that their work would make a lasting impression.

“One day we’ll take our children here and we’ll tell them we helped make that,” Wheeler said.

David Kubota is a Scripps Howard Foundation intern at the NKyTribune this summer. He is a student at the University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media.

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