Dozens of 13-year-olds gathered Tuesday morning around large panels describing events, people and places of the Civil War.
The panels on display at the Conway Junior High School are part of a traveling exhibit about Arkansas’s role in the war.
"I think it’s cool," said Victoria McCauley, 12, of Conway. "I like old things."
Several students took notes around a large photograph of a slave who had scars from being whipped. Another studied the images of leaders.
The display, "Civil War Arkansas, 1861-1865," is part of the commemoration of the war’s 150th anniversary. It’s a collaborative effort between the Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, the Old State House Museum and the Arkansas Humanities Council. During the next four years, the exhibit will travel to towns statewide, according to the brochure.
The exhibit — at the junior high school until Wednesday, Sept. 5 — will be back in Conway in 2014 at the Faulkner County Museum for the public to see.
In the meantime, eighth- and ninth-grade students have the chance to see the traveling exhibit now.
About 700 eighth graders will see the exhibit, teacher Sherry Tipps-Holder said. More teachers choose to bring their ninth graders, she said.
At about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Tipps-Holder’s first-period students got the first glimpse of the exhibit. For some, it’s an introduction to the Civil War, she said.
The panels are large, which surprised Maya VanBelle, 13, of Conway. She said she struggles to remember all the details about the war.
"I like history, but it confuses me sometimes," she said.
The exhibit is an opportunity for students to get in touch with their state’s history, Tipps-Holder said.
"Students can see what our role was in the Civil War," Tipps-Holder said. "Arkansas was a divided state."
In fact, some students might be surprised to learn that someone in their family joined the Union, she said. At least one student asked Tipps-Holder how to research her family history online after seeing the exhibit. Others leaned close to hear the answer.
"[The Civil War] is a huge deal in the United States," Tipps-Holder said. "I’m glad there is an emphasis on commemorating it."