‘Bridge Builders’ project moves forward in Prince Edward schools

Published 5:30 pm Wednesday, November 16, 2022

FARMVILLE – The goal is to build bridges in Prince Edward County, to work with other students and address needs in the community. Students from Prince Edward schools, as well as Fuqua School,  are already making an impact, as four juniors from Prince Edward County High told the school board on Wednesday, Nov. 9.

TiOnna Dupuy, Nia Davis, Sylvia Hemmer and Layla Edmonds are part of the Bridge Builders program with the Moton Museum. These four young women are in the first of hopefully many classes to take part in this program.

Bridge Builders is a community of young scholars who want to come together to encourage unity and create a better future for the schools, community and county. This program will help the students from Prince Edward County High School and Fuqua School create stronger relationships, assist the Moton Museum, create a legacy project and earn a $1,000 college scholarship.

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“We hope that this program can proceed past our class so that we can continue to not only learn the history of Prince Edward but also become closer with Fuqua in the process,” said Layla Edmonds.

As juniors, the four students are taking part in the foundational course. During this time, the students meet on Monday and Wednesday mornings at the museum and virtually on other mornings to learn more about the history of Prince Edward County, and have worked with Dr. Larissa Smith, Cameron Patterson and Cainan Townsend from the museum.

The participating students have also heard from speakers, including Joan John Cobbs, sister of Barbara Johns, as well as attended field trips to the State Capital in Richmond to see the Civil Rights monument of Barbara Johns and the Virginia Museum of History and Culture.

Changing things in Prince Edward schools

The next part of the program includes 10 hours of community service before finishing with their legacy project at the end of their senior year. These legacy projects give the students the opportunity to address a real problem in Prince Edward County and find a solution.

The four young women have already chosen their topics and are developing plans to implement their vision to better Prince Edward County.

“Each problem we’ve chosen is a current issue in Prince Edward County,” said Nia Davis. “To find solutions, we are interviewing experts as well as doing extensive research. As a group, we hope our legacy projects make a lasting impact in our community and continue for generations to come.”

What are the legacy projects?

Nia Davis plans to create a tutoring system to help students that have fallen behind during the virtual learning from the COVID-19 lockdown. She hopes that a tutoring service can help these and other students catch up and be successful in their academics.

Sylvia Hemmer plans to focus on tackling food insecurity in the county. She plans to work with Bruce Davis, Supervisor of Food Service at Prince Edward County Public Schools, to put something together to reduce food waste and get a group of people together to create a school garden.

“I’ve really learned about the poverty rate of Prince Edward County, which I didn’t know is, I believe, 26 or 27%,: Hemmer said. “That was kind of a shock to me.”

Layla Edmonds plans to have her project on volunteerism. She plans to create a group of dedicated volunteers who will be ready and willing to step up and help out various nonprofit organizations when needed.

TiOnna Dupuy’s project focuses on the lack of healthcare resources in Farmville. She hopes to create a plan to bring more dentists and doctors to the town as she and many others have to travel for simple appointments.

“I just want my healthcare in Farmville so I don’t have to go to Richmond or Lynchburg just to get my teeth cleaned or to get my eyes checked and I can get it right here,” she said.

Encouraging another group to continue

According to the four students, Bridge Builders has been an eye-opening experience they have greatly enjoyed being a part of. They look forward to continuing on and encouraging the younger classes to consider joining in the future.

“We haven’t talked to any [underclassmen] yet, but we plan on doing that as the semester keeps going to encourage the 10th graders and ninth graders to apply,” said Nia Davis.


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