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Students discover South Carolina for Halloween

History event substitutes for trick-or-treat party as Pinckney Elementary pupils learn about state heritage

By Jessica Johnson

The Post and Courier

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Charles Pinckney Elementary School’s Taste of South Carolina was a Halloween party in disguise.

Teachers dressed in costumes for Red Ribbon Week to say “Boo” to drugs. Third-grade students wore face paint, fake tattoos and pirate eye patches while making Native American masks, all while learning about South Carolina history.

In the past, some parents kept children at home on Halloween to dodge the celebration in hopes of avoiding candy, games and parties, said third-grade teacher Bridgette Marques.

So rather than having a Halloween celebration, the Taste of South Carolina is held the Friday nearest Halloween and focuses on state heritage, bringing up plenty of old ghosts.

Susan Fitz, a retired principal, dressed as a pirate, told third-graders about the story of Blackbeard. The pirate, Edward Teach, seized the city of Charleston in 1718, demanding supplies to restock ships, Fitz said. The blockade went on for days.

“Without firing a shot, we got everything we wanted,” she said.

Maybe it was the flag. Fitz showed the pirate’s banner, decorated with a skeleton stabbing a heart.

“What does that mean?” she asked.

Third-grader Reed Way raised his hand.

“They will kill anybody,” he said.

Students moved from room to room, where presenters incorporated activities with educational lessons. Marques called it taking six field trips at once.

The day began with Queen Quet, a professional storyteller and spokeswoman for the Gullah-Geechee Nation.

Then children learned about the state’s Catawba Indians and the pottery they made, as well as their pots and masks.

Sewee Visitor and Environmental Education Center educators taught students about the state’s birds and how their beaks and feet have adapted to help them survive. Then students dressed up like birds.

There were no tricks or treats except maybe the fake $50 Confederate bill presenter Bob Whitley passed out while dressed as a gray-coated infantry soldier at a camp outside the school.

Whitley talked to students about the reasons the war started: taxes and slavery. He also told of the hardships faced by Charleston residents when federal troops bombarded the city for 587 days.

His wool uniform was similar to what a Charleston soldier of the time might have worn. That and his Tower Enfield rifle were so convincing that one third-grader raised her hand to ask, “Were you in the Civil War?”

Whitley intended to wear the uniform as his Halloween costume.

But back indoors, Randy Burbage of the Hunley Commission, created by the state to restore and preserve the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley, said his presentation had nothing to do with Halloween.

Teacher Jane Bullard said the Taste of South Carolina really isn’t about the holiday either.

Instead of candy, students sampled Lowcountry food such as collard greens, red beans and rice, shrimp and grits, peach cobbler, fried chicken, Carolina rice and sweet tea.

Most students didn’t like all the food, but they tried it all.

“Really it is just a taste and that’s about it,” Marques said.

Reach Jessica Johnson at 937-5921 or at

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November 13, 2008 Posted by | Post & Courier | Leave a comment