CCHS black history project highlights local success stories | News | The Press and Standard

by | February 8, 2018 5:00 pm

Last Updated: February 6, 2018 at 1:55 pm

By Anna Stevens Bright
On Thursday Feb. 1, Colleton County High School began its month-long celebration of African-American History Month.
The celebration this year is something slightly different. This is a project that Dr. Melissa Crosby, principal, has been wanting to implement, so Anna Bright’s English IV Honors class has enthusiastically taken on the project. Many of the students are familiar with nationwide famous African Americans and their contributions. However, Dr. Crosby feels they need to know that there are many other African Americans with Colleton County roots, who have remained here and have moved to other places and are very successful in various fields.
Acquainting the students with some of these local success stories will be a great way to show them that even though they have been raised and educated in a small town, they can rise above any circumstances and become successful at home, in other states and abroad. Honoring these well-known locals will further demonstrate to the students that “the sky is the limit.”
On Thursday, Bright shared information about the project on the morning announcements so that the students would know what to expect. Her class decided on a theme for the month for this project, “CCHS Honors Local African American Trailblazers.”
On Friday Feb. 2, one of her students, Destiny Scott, shared with the student body, a poem, “The Key to Success,” written by Colleton native Cephus L. Bright. Further, Destiny shared a few highlights about Mr. Bright, a decorated Vietnam veteran, who served two tours of duty, one of which was voluntary.
Mr. Bright is a 1967 graduate of Colleton High School, a U.S. Army retiree with 20 years of service, a 27-year retired entrepreneur and a poet.
He is in the process of publishing a book of poetry that reflects his many unique experiences in the military and ideas about life in general.
A former military science instructor at Elon University in North Carolina, he presently resides in Columbia.
Each day from February 5-28, one of Mrs. Bright’s students from her English IV Honors class will share highlights about a local trailblazer during the morning announcements. Then, once a week during February, one of these trailblazers will be interviewed by her students. The interviews will air at CCHS on Fridays Feb. 9, 16, and 23. This segment of the project is entitled:” Following Their Trails: Sitting Down with Local Trailblazers.”
The first interview took place on Monday Feb. 5 with the Rev. Ephriam D. Stephens, a 2001 graduate of Ruffin High School. In 2004 he received his associates degree in mortuary science from Gupton-Jones College in Atlanta. Presently, he is the owner of Stephens-Maree-Tracy Funeral Home in Walterboro and Ephriam D. Stephens Funeral Home in Sumter. He is also the pastor of Bull Swamp Baptist Church in Orangeburg.
CCHS students Soleil Fryar-Sims and Cameron Usry conducted the interview. One of the main tidbits of advice that he offered for success to the students is to have respect for their teachers. He indicated that it would carry them much farther than money.
The interviews will appear on YouTube, and the entire student body will get the opportunity to see it on Friday Feb. 9. Tabitha Dewitt’s digital multimedia marketing class will be videotaping all of the interviews. Students William Bowman III and Whitt Burn videotaped the interview with Rev. Stephens.
This week the following African-American Trailblazers from Colleton County will be honored during the morning announcements: LCDR Joseph Hamilton (staff officer for the Chief of Naval Operations at the Pentagon), the late Dr. Ralph W. Tracy (pharmacist and entrepreneur), Mrs. Wilsey McCray Hamilton (principal of Northside Elementary School), Shirley S. Washington (retired registered nurse), and Gunner Williams (retired CCHS NJROTC instructor).
A new list of honorees will follow each week. Students Dyneira Brown, Keith Robinson, Rebecca Smith, Rebecca Cohen, and Joshua Thurman will present the honorees. Once the project ends on February 28, Mrs. Bright and her students will be preparing a booklet about these trailblazers to share with the school, community and others.
Another activity planned for this month-long celebration is the annual Black History Program, which will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday Feb. 9 in the CCHS Performing Arts Center. The program is being sponsored by the Ladies of Excellence (advisors M. Miller, Cynthia Richardson, Yolanda Wade and Vernessa Brooks), and the Cougars Men of Distinction (advisors Shon Johnson, Patrick Thomas, Louis Gluek, and Courtney Singleton).
An evening program will also be held on Friday Feb. 9 at 6 p.m. in the performing arts center. Anna S. Bright will be the speaker. Tickets for the evening program will be $6 and can be purchased at the fee window at CCHS.

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