Learning Starkville's Legacy

After inclement weather canceled it this spring, the third annual Living Legacy Tour is back this fall.
Similar to the Tales from the Crypt production performed by the Mississippi School for Math and Science, Living Legacy is Starkville’s version of the people who made Starkville what it is today. Set in Oddfellows Cemetery, visitors will be apart of a guided night tour where they will hear short skits and learn the story of a few notables who lay to rest there.
Armstrong Middle School teachers Ginger Tedder and April Dill, with the help of Starkville High drama teacher Mandy Kinney resolved to bring the tour here three years ago, and have worked each year to make it a memorable event.
“Legacy was intended to be a fine mesh of research, history and the arts,” Tedder said. “ It has greatly exceeded our expectations, and it has quickly become a favorite among the community and students alike.”
The process starts with the Armstrong students conducting research about an historical Starkville figure assigned to them. From there, family members (if applicable) of the figure are asked to visit with the student. The students interview them to get real insight on the person they will portray. Then, actors are cast and stories are memorized. The end result is a dramatic, candle-lit excursion through history.
“Legacy is a community event that immerses our students in the history of our city and county.  It is a unique learning opportunity as they get to exhibit their skills in the performing arts as well,” Tedder said. “Legacy is truly a memorable learning opportunity for those participating as a part of the program or as a patron.”
Starkville greats such as James “Cool Papa” Bell, considered to be the fastest man in baseball history, and General John Stark, the controversial namesake of Starkville, are just a few of the stories visitors to Oddfellows Cemetery will hear. Stories span the historical time line, with tales from the Civil War to Civil Rights.
Newcomers to the tour are Johnny Cash and the late Edyth McArthur. Though Cash is not a Starkville native, the famous country singer did spend time in a Starkville jail, and even wrote a song about his time there.
“Edyth McArthur requested we highlight her husband’s educational career in a future Legacy tour, and we are doing just that this year.  She was integral to the beginnings of the Legacy program, and it is our honor to fulfill her request,” Tedder explained. “In addition, we are proud to be partnering with The Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum for our last stop of the evening.  They will graciously open the museum for visitors as our last stop for Legacy 2010.  If you have never visited the museum, you are missing a very enlightening learning opportunity about Oktibbeha County.”
The Living Legacy tours have even captured the attention of ING Investment Company. Each year, ING donates thousands to unsung heros, and this year, Tedder, Dill and Kinney (and their students) have received a $2,000 grant for their innovative teaching program.
ING Financial Advisor Marcus Kindcaid recently presented the Living Legacy teachers and students with their check.
“ING takes education very seriously, like investing for the future,” Kincaid said. “We enjoy reaching out to the schools in the Golden Triangle to recognize innovative teachers.”
Tours will be held Saturday, Nov. 13 from 6 to 10 p.m. at Oddfellows Cemetery, with the last tour starting at roughly 9:10 p.m. Tours take up to an hour, and patrons are encouraged to dress for the weather. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children.