- Steelton-Highspire School District
Midland Cemetery Project
We are pleased to announce the 3rd year of our special community partnership with the Friends of Midland Cemetery. This year 50 students from the 8th grade joined in the 3rd Annual Historic Midland Cemetery Field Experience. To conclude their “History is Made Locally” unit of study in their U.S. History class, students toured the Historic Midland Cemetery located just behind the School District property in Swatara Township. While there, students learned about the overall history of this historically African-American cemetery which started as early as 1795. Students learned how individuals (and the groups represented there) triumphed over the various barriers they encountered in their lives including slavery, segregation, and systemic racism. Local topics included the Hygienic School (once part of our own school district), the first teacher of that school who, himself, was born into slavery (E.L. Carey), Peter Sullivan Blackwell (editor and publisher of the Steelton Press newspaper and first black councilman of Steelton Borough), Herbert “Rap” Dixon (Negro League baseball star), and Andrew Askin (WWI naval serviceman lost at sea aboard the U.S.S. Cyclops). Additionally, students learned that local veterans from every major war, from the Civil War to the Korean War, have been interred within Midland.
Most importantly, none of this would be possible without local community members. We would like to extend a special thank you to Ms. Barbara Barksdale, a Steelton-Highspire alumnus herself, president of the Friends of Midland Cemetery, and a local treasure as an historian, genealogist, and preservationist. She, along with several community volunteers, including Mrs. Gilinda Cousar, Ms. Jeanie Glaser, Mrs. Elizabeth Jefferies, Mr. Ted Knorr, and Mr. William Jefferies have all been very generous with their time and commitment to the education of our students. Thanks to their care, attention, research, and service, students can begin to make connections with those who came before them, and they can see that each of us can have a role in making history—locally.