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Students celebrate Mississippi’s history

LOADING: Pearl River Central Upper Elementary fourth graders watch as Daryl Ladner, a member of the Seven Stars Artillery re-enactment group, loads the cannon with four ounces of black powder.  Photo by Alexandra Hedrick

LOADING: Pearl River Central Upper Elementary fourth graders watch as Daryl Ladner, a member of the Seven Stars Artillery re-enactment group, loads the cannon with four ounces of black powder.
Photo by Alexandra Hedrick

MCNEIL — Residents near Pearl River Central Upper Elementary School Thursday morning may have heard loud shooting noises coming from the campus. The noise was a result of a cannon discharged as part of the school’s Mississippi Day celebration.

Students and parents were invited to come and explore Mississippi’s history through a Civil War reenactment, singing and artwork created by the school’s fourth graders.

PRC Upper Elementary School Principal Darlene Hall said fourth grade is the only opportunity students have to learn about Mississippi’s history in elementary school. She said the day was a way for students to demonstrate what they have learned and continue to explore the state’s history.

The day’s big event was a demonstration by the Seven Stars Artillery re-enactment group.

Daryl Ladner, a member of the group, said seven or eight soldiers would have been in charge of operating the cannon during the Civil War. He demonstrated to the students and parents how the cannon was prepared and loaded before firing it.

Ladner said the cannon contained four ounces of black powder that was sparked by friction caused from him pulling a string. He said during the war, the cannon would have been loaded with solid shots, shrapnel case shots or canister shots.

He said solid shots were used to destroy cannons on the other side of the field or to knock down fortifications. Case shots were hollow and usually contained round balls with a lit flare that would explode and injure many soldiers at once. Canister shots are metal cans filled with lead balls that, when shot, act like a large shotgun.

Fourth grade students also performed songs by Mississippi native musicians and created artwork about famous Mississippians, native wildlife of the state and the history of the state.

“The students have been so excited over the course of the past few months as they have been learning and preparing,” Hall said. “We are proud of all the hard work of each of our students, regular and special activity teachers.”

Students performed “Mississippi Girl” by Faith Hill, a melody of songs by Elvis Presley and the state song, “Go Mississippi.”

School Social Worker Paula Russell,who helped plan the event, said the school hopes to bring back and expand the event for next year.

“The students are so excited. The parents are excited to be here. I think everyone is really enjoying themselves,” Russell said.