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CCC challenges students to learn more about local history

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: CCC challenges students to learn more about local history
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OSWEGO COUNTY, N.Y. -- From busy street corners to rural back roads, Oswego County is overflowing with history. However, educators said most people have no idea what happened in their own backyards.

"In our schools, and it's not individual schools, it's our entire state system, we don't require the students to learn and take pride in what we have, we have to learn about other places," said John Lamphere, a history professor at Cayuga Community College.

That's why CCC now offers a course on New York State History at their Fulton campus. It highlights historical events from across the state and Oswego County. The final project involves partnering with the Oswego County Tourism Department.

The students pick a historical site, tour it, and present their findings. Many of them pick a site that they've seen many times, but know nothing about. Kayla Brown lives only two houses down from the Bristol Hill Church in Volney, but had never been inside it.

"I drive by it every day pretty much, and I always look at it, and I see people here, and I'm like, I'm going to go there eventually and check it out and see what it looks like, and I've just never done it," said Baker.

Kayla was given a tour by Pastor Jim Hinman, and learned about the church's unique past. It was involved in the underground railroad, and even had African American members as early as 1820.

"When he brought me in I was like, it looks amazing in here, it's old and it's rustic, it looks exactly like he said, just like it did back in the 1800s," said Baker.

Kayla's classmate, Jon Gower, picked the Starr Clark Tin Shop in Mexico, another underground railroad site. He said seeing the building in person made what happened there so much more interesting.

"Hands on learning always works best, you can see, you can touch, you can experience everything instead of just looking at a computer screen or looking at a book," said Gower.

School officials said the hope is that by getting more students excited about local history, they will one day work to preserve it.

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