Local Students Recognized for Hidden Cemeteries Project

Some provincial recognition for a group of local students for a project they did about hidden cemeteries associated with the underground railroad.

Back in April 2018, senior students in the geography class at Academie Ste-Cecile International School recorded and collected data from headstones found in four black cemeteries in Essex County to create a database.

The project has received the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario's Heritage Award for Youth Achievement.

School Principal Dr. Benjamin Cooper says a ceremony took place in Toronto last month.

"Students received their certificates and met the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and had a small reception to discuss the award and mingle with other award winners."

He says students understood the importance of the award.

"At first I wasn't 100% sure that they understood the scope of what they had accomplished and what the award ceremony was, but on the ride home in the van, some of the students were saying that was a really big deal and they were excited about what they had done and it kinda hit home."

Cooper says it was an honour for the school and the students.

"Recognition is amazing and it speaks to the quality of the project and just hopefully they can take all the little aspects that they learned and apply it to different areas of their lives."

Students created a digital map with information on the headstones and who was buried there.

The project has been posted on the Town of Essex website.