Award intended to help record history of Bristol’s schools


High school juniors and seniors in Bristol, and college freshmen and sophomores from Bristol will have a new scholarship available to them soon, thanks to the Perry Whitcomb Scholarship initiated by the Bristol Historical Society.
Named after George R. Perry, the first president of the historical society in the 1970s, and John Whitcomb, the first principal at Bristol Eastern High School, the scholarship, which is funded by outside sources, will offer $750 to one student, $500 to another, and $250 to a third.
Students won’t be able to just apply to the scholarship and be chosen based off major, GPA, and community service work or essays. This scholarship will require applicants to research one of the schools in Bristol and construct a history of one of the schools in Bristol.
Co-chair of education at the Bristol Historical Society, Elizabeth Christophy, said the project will give students an opportunity to discover history about schools in the city, some of which they may have even attended. She said there is no detailed history of each school in Bristol, so the idea was brought up as a way to gather solid information about each school before the information is lost as the generations pass on.
“It’s a fabulous opportunity for all of us to learn about the Bristol schools,” Christophy said. “The information will be lost if people don’t start writing stuff down.”
The students will apply to the scholarship and be able to choose a school, and a topic within that school, they want to focus on. If students don’t have a preference a school can be assigned to them. The historical society and Bristol Public Library, especially the history room, will be available to students as resources. Additionally, Christophy said there will be mentors available to the students who will be individuals who may have attended the schools chosen. Volunteers and mentors will be available for interviews, and when the videos are completed, there will be a viewing for the public.
Barbara Badore, also co-chair of education at the historical society, said the project is “wonderful” for this generation, especially since youths now are used to utilizing and learning from digital sources.
“I think they are going to get a lot out of the project, and learn more than they ever thought possible,” Badore said, she added that the students will have a unique opportunity to learn more history about the city in which they live or are educated in, meet other residents, and work on their interviewing skills.
The projects will be judged by a panel of individuals who are separate from those working on the project. They will be judging the projects on length, content, citations, interviews, artistry, and technology.
President of the Bristol Historical Society, Tom Dickau, said the project is “a way for young people to get involved in Bristol’s history and present something significant that can be added to a resume.” He added this year is a significant one for the project to begin since the district has closed five schools in two years. The videos will be archived at the historical society, and copies will be given to the schools that were chosen.
There will be an informational session for anyone interested in participating on Saturday, Oct. 6 at 2 p.m. at the Bristol Historical Society, 98 Summer St., Bristol. Anyone interested in volunteering to be a mentor or be interviewed, or anyone with memorabilia from any of the schools in Bristol, should contact the historical society at (860) 583-6309. Applications will be due on Oct. 20, and projects will be due on April 13.