Bicentennial: Harbinger of Positive Change

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Legacy is a word we use a lot at the Bicentennial Commission. Through the 600 endorsed Legacy Projects in 86 counties, it is our hope that Hoosiers not only commemorate this time in Indiana's history, but also consider how the Bicentennial can be remembered as a harbinger of positive change.

Indiana's children are truly our most important legacy. Indeed, Youth and Education is one of the four pillars of the Bicentennial, along with Nature Conservation, Historical Celebration and Community Involvement. Formally or informally, children and their education is a great way to make a lasting difference during the Bicentennial year, which kicks off a scant 74 days from today.

Here are a few highlights of programs targeting students and teachers. For a complete listing, go to our website, find the legacy project page, and do a search for Youth and Education.

The term "bisontennial" was actually coined in Wabash County, to denote a project to create community art using concrete bison, school children and the resources of Manchester University. It has taken off as a concept, and you will see the thematic use of the bison in many projects next year.

In Randolph County, students are planting tulip trees on the school campus. Students will learn about ecology and Indiana history at the same time, and celebrate with a picnic featuring the state pie: sugar cream.

Reading Indiana is a project sponsored by the Pike County Historical Society. Books and publications by and about Indiana will be distributed to local schools so students can become familiar with Indiana authors and learn about others who have made a difference in the world.

Local historical timelines are very popular, along with special field trips, historic reenactments, art and essay contests, musical performances, even a pre-K early learning adventure book. There are projects underway near you.

And, we have some very large projects underway:

ArtSmart:Indiana is a statewide program based in Lafayette which  uses Indiana art to teach the history of our state. Check it out, it is amazing!

Hoosiers and the American Story is a new supplemental text on Indiana from its earliest times to the present. The Indiana Historical Society is providing teacher training workshops, classroom software and technology to bring the Indiana experience to upper school classrooms. My wife, the history teacher attended training in Madison, and still raves about it.

Butler University students wrote The Gifts of Indiana as a class project. This book of stories about Hoosier heroes is aimed at fourth grade students. This would be a great book to purchase and read to young people to help them learn about Hoosiers of note, from Tecumseh to Ryan White.

Butler University created Crossroads Connect, using tablet technology to help students, teachers and parents find out more about Indiana. You can even download it from your favorite app store.

Across the state, projects large and small, serious and fun, historical and aspirational, are focused on Indiana children and the rest of us who are entrusted with their care, nurturing and growth.  Look up a project in your county or town. Create one if none exist. Help a teacher. Volunteer. Read. Mentor. Act. You will be glad you did.

Perry Hammock is executive director of the Indiana Bicentennial Commission.

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