SEARCY New Orleans is celebrating its tricentennial this year. Websites boast of a wide variety of activities for visitors as the city celebrates its 300th birthday.
Two White County residents will be among the city’s visitors this summer, but their trips are geared more toward learning about World War II rather than the history of New Orleans, although NOLA does have an interesting link to World War II, as it is the site of the National WW II Museum.
Harding Academy social studies teacher Angela Adams and Harding Academy freshman Carson McFatridge have been selected for special learning opportunities by the National WWII Museum. Adams is one of 30 teachers from across the United States who will participate in the museum’s Summer Teacher Institute in July. McFatridge will represent Arkansas as the recipient of the Billy Michal Student Leadership Award, which is given to one student from each state and the District of Columbia who demonstrates the American spirit through community service.
“One of my parents emailed the social studies department about the World War II Museum Summer Teacher Institute,” Adams said.
“I decided I really wanted to apply. I love World War II history. I applied and was chosen,” she said.
“Then they sent me information about student opportunities. I immediately thought of Carson,” Adams said. “I knew her from my class, knew that she had won many awards. She had top grades and top test scores. Then I found out about her community service — 4-H, Girl Scouts and more. So I nominated her, and she was selected to represent Arkansas.
“I know Carson will be a great representative for Arkansas.”
McFatridge, who lives in Bald Knob, is the 14-year-old daughter of Mark McFatridge of Bald Knob and Krista Brimer of Searcy.
“History has always been interesting to me, not just the facts and dates. It’s the stories that impress me,” McFatridge said.
“World War II is a special interest of mine,” she said.
“Ever since first or second grade, we read a little about it,” she said. “My focus has been on the Jewish part of World War II. I have read about it and am really interested to see how their faith in God never wavered.
“I’ve always wanted to know more … to know why war happens. When the Scholastic Book Fair comes to school, I buy books on World War II.”
At Harding Academy, McFatridge has been named to the Harding Academy Circle of Excellence, which honors students with a cumulative class average of 95 percent or higher. She is a member of the Beta Club, the Future Business Leaders of America and the chorus, and has been a member of the track, softball, swim, volleyball and basketball teams, as well as quiz bowl and band.
McFatridge has been a Girl Scout for 11 years as a member of the White/Woodruff County Service Unit and Troop 6448. She received the Bronze Award for planning, organizing and preparing miniature first-aid kits for the local Department of Human Services’ children’s safe home and has completed requirements for the Silver Award for implementing the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Tackle Loaner Program for the Lyda Miller Public Library in Bald Knob.
McFatridge has been an active member of the Velvet Ridge 4-H Club for 11 years. She has served as president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, reporter and song leader and has won numerous awards. She received the White County Junior Spirit of 4-H Award in 2014.
McFatridge served as a page for state Rep. Michael Gray, D-Augusta, during the 2017 Arkansas General Assembly. She is a member of Worden Baptist Church and the Girls Missionary Auxiliary. She volunteers at Loads of Love laundry, a community-service project for the homeless and those in need. She has also packed personal-hygiene care kits to be sent to an orphanage in Honduras and made snack bags for local civil-service members.
McFatridge will travel to New Orleans with her mother as her chaperone and will participate in the museum’s American Spirit Awards Celebration on June 7 and 8.
“I will meet with other delegates. We will talk about community service and swap ideas,” McFatridge said.
“We will hear speeches, visit the World War II museum and tour the historic French Quarter. There will also be a big gala,” she said.
“It’s all paid for. I am excited about it. There will be a lot of speakers, including Gary Sinise, who played Uncle Dan in Forrest Gump. I am excited about seeing him,” McFatridge said.
“I am going there to learn. I know I will come back with some ideas that I can implement here in my community,” she said.
“My goal is to graduate college and become a veterinarian. That has been my goal since I was 5. I have volunteered more than 500 hours with a local veterinarian since 2015,” she said.
“I live on a farm … a hobby farm, I call it,” McFatridge said. “I show sheep, goats, cows, chickens and rabbits at the county, district and state fairs.
“I have one sister, Zoe, 3, who we adopted from China.”
Adams, 41, will be in New Orleans on July 23-27 for the National WWII Museum Summer Teacher Institute, which will focus on the U.S. home front.
“They will bring in scholars to speak. We will work in the archives,” she said.
“After I return, I will share the knowledge I’ve gained with the staff here and in the community. We belong to the Wilbur D. Mills Education Cooperative, so I am sure I will be doing workshops with them. I will present some for teachers and some for students,” Adams said.
“The goal of this program is to develop and share the best strategies for teaching about World War II,” she said.
“I will be eligible for six hours of college credit after I complete the program, which will culminate in July 2019 with a trip to Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. I am really looking forward to that,” Adams said.
“Angela is an excellent teacher who provides challenging and engaging lessons for her students,” said Darren Mathews, principal of Harding Academy High School. “She really cares for her students and is able to relate and teach to a wide variety of learning styles.”
Adams was born in Ada, Oklahoma, and graduated from Greater Tulsa Christian Academy. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in social studies from Harding University in 1999 and a Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Tulsa in 2001. This is her 11th year at Harding Academy; she taught in Kansas for six years prior to moving to Searcy.
She is married to David Adams, who is a history professor at Harding University.
“We met in a World War I class,” she said.
“We are driving to New Orleans. We are making a road trip with our three sons: Nate, 10, Grant, 8, and Andrew, 5. There will be a lot of discussion about history,” Angela Adams said.
“My grandfather Orville Reeves was in World War II, so it’s always been of special interest to me,” Adams said. “I wish I knew more about his service. He would tell me things when we would talk … when he would talk, … so I did learn some things.”
She shared one story about her grandfather, who served in the Air Force as a member of the 525th Fighter-Bomber Squadron.
“He was in Italy and was mentioned in Ernie Pyle’s book Brave Men because of his superstition,” she said. She has a newspaper article from the Oklahoma City-Times dated Jan. 31, 1944, that reprints the World War II war correspondent’s story about her grandfather:
“In Italy, Jan 30 - (By Wireless) - Another flight chief is Sgt. Orville Reeves of Fittstown, Okla. Sgt. Reeves is one of the few people I’ve run into in the air forces who have superstitions. Superstitiousness is rare, even among the pilots. The last war’s phobia against 3 on a match is almost unheard of now.
“Sgt. Reeves normally has six planes in his charge, but sometimes he will have more. His idiosyncrasy is that he won’t accept seven. He doesn’t mind the extra work, and he’ll accept two extra planes, but not one. The reason is that three different times since they’ve come overseas, he has had an extra plane shoved onto him — making a total of seven — and every time, his flight has lost a plane the following day. So he’ll have none of it anymore, and you can’t blame him.”
For more information on the National WWII Museum, visit the website nationalww2museum.org.