News Column

Academy of Richmond County seeks to preserve history with museum

June 25, 2014

By Tracey McManus, The Augusta Chronicle, Ga.

June 25--In her two years as Academy of Richmond County principal, Malinda Cobb said alumni have visited the school to donate memorabilia found in their parents' attics or just to reminisce.

They've come to flip through yearbooks and to search for their initials carved into 88-year-old desks.

As one of the oldest public schools in the country, Richmond Academy has accumulated more memories and alumni than most. Now there will be one place for the community to look back on it all.

A history museum is being constructed in the Richmond Academy media center to house photographs, documents, athletic items, and other artifacts from its 230-year legacy. When it opens in the fall, students will also begin recording oral histories to house in a digital catalog for visitors to hear.

"People are very passionate about the school," Cobb said. "Some of it is because of the generations of families who come here. We have students with grandparents and great-grandparents who attended here, so it's fun to try to bridge that gap."

School officials are using a portion of the special purpose local option sales tax funds allocated to Richmond Academy to construct the 16-by 30-foot glass enclosed space. The museum will sit at the back of the media center and will be open to students and visitors.

The school has collected scrap books, academic and athletic programs, and photographs saved by school officials or donated by the community.

With some documents dating back to the early 1900s, Cobb said there was a need to build a climate-controlled and organized space to preserve them.

Because alumni often stop by the school to share stories -- such as a student who rode his motorcycle through the hallway and was chased out by the principal -- Cobb said she wanted a way to save memories that can't be enclosed in a glass case.

In September, media students will record short stories from alumni and community members about the school and digitalize them into a usable system for visitors to listen to, much like NPR's StoryCorps.

"People come in here and tell stories all the time, and we don't want to lose those artifacts," Cobb said.

The school already has a collection of photos, documents, yearbooks and even a uniform from 1925, but officials are calling for all types of donations to add to the museum.

"We are also taking things from the present day," Cobb said. "You don't realize how valuable they are until time has passed."


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Source: Augusta Chronicle (GA)

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