A program that aims to celebrate Alabama’s past kicked off with its future this morning as fourth-graders from Vance Elementary School sang the official state song.
As their voices sang the words of “Alabama” written by Julia Tutwiler set to music by Edna Gockel-Gussen, the students’ T-shirts carried the logo of the Alabama PastPort program.
PastPort kicked off at Mercedes-Benz U.S. International (MBUSI) in Vance today. Fourth-graders throughout the state will receive copies or digital downloads of the 176-page book that highlights historic and other facts about all 67 counties in the state. Fourth grade is when a class devoted to Alabama history is taught in state schools.
Each county will also have a site where the PastPort can be stamped.
The Vance students were not only the first in the state to receive the PastPorts today, but they also were the first to have them stamped at the Mercedes-Benz Visitors Center.
State Sen. Arthur Orr, chair of the Alabama Bicentennial Commission, said the PastPort program is one of the key elements to make the celebration statewide, allowing young, old, locals and visitors to participate.
“The Alabama Bicentennial Commission and its partners have gathered here today and are pleased to announce one of those special, statewide projects and that’s our Alabama PastPort Project,” Orr said.
“The PastPort will guide visitors to historic sites in each of our 67 counties where they can see our beautiful state and learn more about it and the people who made it,” Orr said. “It also has an app that goes along with it that will access a wealth of information about our state online through the Encyclopedia of Alabama. It will make sure there is information at the fingertips of anyone wanting to know more about our great state.”
Future content on the app will also be created by Alabama NewsCenter, giving some detailed history on the people, places and culture of the state.
“We’re really excited to be the sponsor of this PastPort project,” MBUSI CEO JasonHoff said. “We really feel like this is a great thing for us to support and a great way to recognize such a great milestone in the state’s history here.”
The PastPort divides the state into geographical regions from north to south. Each region has its own section, which opens with a description of the region, followed by a brief sketch of the counties in it. Every county includes at least one site to visit. Sites include such destinations as Alabama Constitution Village in Huntsville, Moundville Archaeology Park in Hale County, and the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile. House museums, memorials and history parks throughout the state are also among the locales.
In addition to being distributed to schools, PastPorts will be available at welcome centers, the Alabama Department of Archives & History and commercial outlets.
PastPort will be also be available as a download to all Alabama teachers and students.
Alabama Master Teacher Lesa Roberts of Huntsville has created a teachers’ guide that includes activities and applications for all grades, along with links to the state course of study.
The PastPort can also be purchased online at the Alabama 200 gift shop.
You can watch the entire press conference launching the PastPort below.