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Earl Scruggs Center partners with area schools

Students throughout the Cleveland County School System (CCSS) are benefiting from a unique educational opportunity offered throughout fall 2022 by the Earl Scruggs Center (ESC).

More than 1,000 Cleveland County 4th grade students recently took part in a unique field trip experience at the museum to learn about the life of Earl Scruggs and his impact on American music as well as the historic county in which he was raised.

And for local high school students, the ESC is bringing the museum to them through a traveling special exhibit, Redefining Builders: The African American Communities in Cleveland County, which will move to each CCSS high school over the course of the next few months.

"Both of these experiences allow local students to become more aware of the history that is all around them," says ESC Executive Director Mary Beth Martin. "We at the Earl Scruggs Center are glad to have the opportunity to share our resources with local students through this collaborative effort."

Elementary-grade Field Trips

For the 4th graders, the field trips consisted of a scavenger hunt activity throughout the first-floor exhibits and a special program in the Great Hall with area musicians, educators and storytellers.

One of the musicians who participated in this part of the field trips was Darin Aldridge.

"There's nothing better in life than sharing my love of music and encouraging children that they can be anything they set their minds to," says Aldridge. "It's been a great joy of mine to work with the Earl Scruggs Center to help students learn about the rich musical heritage that's all around them, right here in Cleveland County."

Traveling High School Exhibit

Developed by co-curators Zach Dressel and Chavis Gash, Redefining Builders: The African American Communities of Cleveland County began its tour of local high schools at Shelby High on Monday, Oct. 18, 2022.

"This exhibit explores the definition of 'builder' in terms of building communities," says Martin. "The exhibit celebrates the rich African-American history in Cleveland County, including vibrant businesses, faith and civic organizations, and leaders within the community."

After leaving Shelby High, the exhibit will then travel to Crest High School, with plans in the works for it to travel on to Kings Mountain and Burns High Schools in spring 2023.

"For students in Cleveland County, history is a window to the world of those that came before us," co-creator Gash says. "The view from this window is of the accomplishments and lives of those who might not be known but who have contributed to the life we live now in Cleveland County. The Redefining Builders exhibit opens this window for our students to look through."

This traveling exhibit has previously made stops in the community at the Eugenia Young Memorial Library, Cleveland County Chamber, and most recently, Holly Oak Park in Shelby.

Martin says that a virtual presentation of Redefining Builders is available on the Earl Scruggs Center's website,

The Earl Scruggs Center, located in Shelby, is open Tuesday - Saturday, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m., with extended hours until 6 p.m. on Wednesdays, when Cleveland County residents can receive free admission.

For more information about the ESC or about either of the ESC/CCSS collaborative projects, contact Mary Beth Martin at
marybeth@earlscruggscenter.org or 704-487-6233.

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