Gwinnett students mark moment in history with Liberty Plaza plaque

When the state of Georgia decided to add a marker on Liberty Plaza to commemorate the Revolutionary War, Steve Fanczi, executive director for the Georgia Building Authority, knew where to go for the wording. As the parent of three former students from Osborne Middle School in Gwinnett County, he thought using students would be a good idea.

“He said he wanted information about a battle fought in Georgia during the Revolutionary War,” said Kelly Sloan, an Osborne eighth-grade social studies teacher who spearheaded the project. There were only two fought here that were part of the  curriculum for the year, so she picked the one that American troops won.

The Battle of Kettle Creek was a skirmish between soldiers loyal to the 13 American Colonies and troops fighting for Great Britain. It was fought in Wilkes County about eight miles from present-day Washington, Ga. On Feb. 14, 1779, a force of 400 patriots, in a surprise attack, defeated a force of Loyalists twice their number.

“It was the time of year that we were doing class projects anyway, and I asked students in all four of my classes if they wanted to be a part of it,” Sloan said.

A total of 12 students who Sloan said were avid history buffs jumped at the chance to make history themselves. They collaborated on a Google document to get the information together. Then came the whittling down.

“I told them there wasn’t enough room for an encyclopedia on the marker,” said Sloan.

Besides history, the students had to utilize language arts skills to make sure the grammar, punctuation, syntax, etc. was just right; the plaque will stand for generations. And perhaps even more important, the kids learned how to work together as a group. Being in four different classes made it tricky, but they worked it out.

After pairing down the essay, they sent it to Fanczi, who had to edit it down even further.

“With so much interesting information, that’s not an easy task to keep it short,” she said.

The students who worked on the marker have moved on to high school, but Sloan would like to get them together for a photo with their creation.

“It’s not every day that you get to leave you mark like this,” she said.

Principal Kenney Wells praised Sloan and the students for a job well done:

“Ms. Sloan is constantly there for her students and this is one example of how she connects with the class and engages them in ways to put lessons into practical applications.”

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