Beautifying history

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On Friday, freshmen and sophomore students from the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School helped beautify the Eastville Cemetery, one of seven heritage trail points on the African-American Heritage Trail in Oak Bluffs.

Last fall, the students walked the trail with Elaine Weintraub, who taught them about Rebecca, a woman who was enslaved at 11 years old. Weintraub, who is the co-founder of the trail, had such an impact on the students they decided to return in the spring and help clean up the site in preparation for the busy summer season.

Students put on gloves, grabbed rakes and shovels, and cleared the area to make the headstones visible for future visitors.

Once their work was done, students wrote a message to Rebecca and placed it near the cemetery bench that honors her life on Martha’s Vineyard.

Charter School director Pete Steedman told The Times in an email that the students learned about the importance of cemeteries, and honoring the lives of all the people who were never given a gravestone.

“It was a really moving experience for our students, and we look forward to continuing our work with Elaine and the African-American Heritage Trail,” Steedman said.