The Gettysburg Foundation Leadership Development Program team recently had the pleasure of working with 22 high school students and their chaperones visiting Gettysburg from the B.E.S.T. Academy in Atlanta, Georgia.
The B.E.S.T. Academy is a public charter school serving young men in grades 6-12. The B.E.S.T. Academy focuses on providing rigorous learning opportunities to help young men continue to learn and master effective gender-based instructional strategies through relevant and specialized curriculum.
The B.E.S.T. Academy students explored the Gettysburg battlefield, led by Licensed Battlefield Guide Jasan Hileman. The students learned about the events that brought the opposing armies together in late June to early July 1863, and about the officers and soldiers who met on the field of battle. The themes of leadership, communication and collaboration were the focus of the overall experience. The students participated in an immersive activity becoming part of an artillery team, complete with the prop equipment that worked the cannon.
The students returned to the historic George Spangler Farm & Field Hospital for lunch and a living history demonstration. Licensed Battlefield Guide Larry Korczyk presented equipment Civil War soldiers carried and discussed highlights of how soldiers lived in the field. Then, the students returned to the battlefield to visit the Peach Orchard, Little Round Top and Gettysburg National Cemetery.
Local historian Jean Howard Green led the students on a personalized walking tour through west Gettysburg. Green highlighted the robust contributions of the African American townspeople before, during and after the battle. The tour included a visit to the Lincoln Cemetery, a historic African American cemetery and the final resting place for Basil Biggs and more than 30 members of the United States Colored Troops.
The day ended with a debriefing session in which the young men discussed what they learned and how they plan to be better leaders as a result of their experiences through the Gettysburg Foundation Leadership Development Program.
B.E.S.T. Academy had the opportunity to visit Gettysburg National Military Park Museum & Visitor Center’s exclusive resources and experiences. The students experienced a special program of the Gettysburg Cyclorama painting. They explored the exhibits and artifacts in the Gettysburg Museum of the American Civil War before ending their evening with a catered dinner in the Museum & Visitor Center.
Prior to their departure from Gettysburg the following day, the Gettysburg Foundation’s Spangler Farm Site Coordinator and volunteer Paul Semanek delivered a final lesson on service and the power of Gettysburg at the Abraham Bryan Farm.
B.E.S.T. Academy’s visit was made possible with the generous support of the Eugene M. Lang Foundation.