By Andy Callaway
When it comes to education, there are certain requirements schools must meet.
Students and teachers alike must meet a variety of standards. Occasionally, those standards create the opportunity for something special to happen, and learning takes on a whole new experience.
Within the Newnan High History Department, students are walking away with a one of a kind education that isn’t just evidence by the numbers in their test scores, but rather by a human connection to the past through actual people.
The number of students involved in History Club proves how NHS students turn out in droves for community service activities, and most important of all, an outpouring of love and appreciation for our veterans.
In recognition of this student and teacher involvement with Veterans, and what NHS Department Chair Mr. Steve Quesinberry calls, “one of the nation’s strongest History Programs,” NHS was recognized by the Military Order of the Purple Heart as a “Purple Heart School.”
NHS Principal Dr. Chase Puckett lauded the department’s effort, led by Mr. Quesinberry, to bring this prestigious recognition to the school. Dr. Puckett called the honor an “acknowledgement of our commitment to our vets” as well as displaying a “rich tradition of connecting to the community.”
However, bringing this to Newnan was only made possible after Quesinberry essentially got word of the opportunity by what could be called an accident.
When corresponding with a fellow History teacher in Indiana that did similar work with local Vets, the teacher mentioned that her school was a “Purple Heart School.”
“What’s that? I’d never heard of that before,” Mr. Quesinberry said. “I looked into it, because the idea seemed great, and we do great things with vets as well but discovered there was no Military Order of the Purple Heart in Coweta.”
The Military Order of the Purple Heart is an organization comprised of Veterans who have received the Purple Heart, and the closest chapter to NHS and Coweta is in Atlanta.
Quesinberry stated that he “contacted the organization in Atlanta,” and invited several members to meet with him and Mr. Frank Henderson at the Redneck Gourmet.
“What’s more Newnan than that?” Quisenberry joked.
After discussing the various activities Newnan sponsors both during and after school hours geared towards vets, the organization members were thoroughly impressed. After formally submitting an application, the recognition was made official.
The recognition as a Purple Heart School is the culmination of a long tradition of connecting Students with the communities’ veterans. For over 20 years, the school has sponsored “Student Vet Connect,” a bi-annual event where veterans from every war since World War II come meet with students and discuss their experiences.
However, some of the Social Studies classes themselves give students an incredible opportunity to learn from those who have served our nation. Vietnam War, taught by Mr. Quesinberry, and World War II class, taught by Mr. Henderson, not only teach the history and background of these wars, but bring vets right into the classroom to speak to students.
Putting history in an academic context that is accessible and understandable presents a serious task to any teacher, but putting an actual face to a world-changing event is quite another.
“Newnan High School is a reminder that education can be full of tradition, but can still be on the cutting edge,” said Dr. Puckett.
Recently, the influence of being named a “Purple Heart School,” extended beyond the NHS campus, when the city of Newnan itself was named a “Purple Heart City.”