Cumberland’s Youth Summit

By Kathy McKenney, Historic Planner/Preservation Coordinator, City of Cumberland

With a Certified Local Government grant from the Maryland Historical Trust, the Cumberland Historic Preservation Commission and staff have partnered with Braddock Middle School to develop a first-ever Youth Summit. During the 2015-2016 school year, this project is bringing together local youth, educators, and preservation partners to investigate and engage with historic places in our city. The summit will give participating students real-world experience with a day focused on hands-on preservation maintenance and intensive sessions on using architecture as artifact, archival research, and place-based interpretation. Summit participants will visit, discuss, and analyze designated historic sites such as churches, the C&O Canal, and the Footer Dye Works Building. The students will craft stories about these places for their peers and the community at large. Project partners include the City of Cumberland’s Historic Preservation Commission, Allegany College of Maryland, the National Park Service C&O Canal National Historical Park, and Canal Place Preservation and Development Authority.

Cumberland Youth Summit 1

Visit to Dan’s Rock

On October 16, 2015, eighth grade students traveled to Dan’s Rock to understand cultural landscapes and to begin learning more about their community, while discussing “sense of place” and what places were important to them within their community. They began to interpret the layers of human visitation to the site over the years and asked other visitors to the site about their experiences and what drew them there. The students developed a hashtag to begin using for social media posting: #SaveOurHistory #BraddockSummit2015.

On October 23rd, students, accompanied by a staff member from Cumberland’s Economic Development department, traveled to five Cumberland neighborhoods (Dingle, Decatur Heights, Johnson Heights, White Oaks, and Rolling Mill) to learn more about cultural and architectural resources. They visited sites both with and without formal designation, such the city’s working class neighborhoods ranging from mid-nineteenth century to mid- century modern. Students selected a neighborhood for further research and are now learning more about documenting resources. The students will craft stories about these places for their peers and the community at large.

Cumberland Youth Summit 2

Youth Summit Neighborhood Visits – Decatur Heights

On November 20th, members of the project team, as well as staff from the Allegany County Library System, met with the students in the classroom to introduce them to sources for continuing their neighborhood research. Their research will result in the preparation of a report that they will present to the Cumberland Mayor and City Council at a public meeting in the near future. In the spring of 2016, students will participate in activities including a service learning project in and around Canal Place, a hands-on preservation maintenance opportunity and an additional heritage tourism activity. We’re looking forward to the results of this great program!

For more information, please contact Kathy McKenney, Historic Planner/Preservation Coordinator, at 301-759-6431 or kathy.mckenney@cumberland.md.gov.

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