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Middle Schoolers To Play Lead Role In Manassas Anniversary

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Students from Stonewall Middle School prepare for another scene at Manassas National Battlefield Park.
Jonathan Wilson
Students from Stonewall Middle School prepare for another scene at Manassas National Battlefield Park.

This year the battlefield expects to welcome more visitors than it has ever seen.

Sixth-graders from Stonewall Middle School are working on short films that visitors will be able to access wirelessly as they visit the battlefield.

Eleven-year-old Rachel Habib plays the lead in one of them.

"The movie is about a little girl, a tomboy, and she's in a museum with her class, and she touches an old musket, and goes on a vortex back in time," Habib explains.

Ken Bassett is the history supervisor for Prince William County Schools. He says though the students only have a few days to film, they've been studying the history of the battlefield all year, wrote their own scripts and made their own costumes.

"They're doing historical investigation, they're practicing the skills of historians, and they're using it to create their own story," Bassett says.

Angela Stokes is the educational director for the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Partnership, and she's helped students with similar projects at Monticello and Harper's Ferry.

She says it's neat to see the children arrive as cinema amateurs and leave as budding actors and auteurs.

"When you start with them at 9 a.m., you get the 'What? We have to do it again from a different angle?,'" she says. "And then if you watch them at 3 p.m., they completely run the show."

The students expect to finish up production on the movies by the end of May, and then turn them over to the National Park Service.

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