A group of sixth grade students at Dermott Elementary School recently toured a number of historical sites including the John H. Johnson Museum; the Desha County Courthouse, the former Arkansas City High School which was repurposed as an annex to the Desha County Courthouse Annex; the Arkansas City Jail Museum; the Furr House; the X.O. Pindall Law Office, built in 1882; and a guided hike on the Delta Heritage Trail.

Joining the students were their principal, Shamonda Boatner-Gardner; teachers, Julia Boatner and Dell Donaldson; and curriculum specialist, Arniece Gardner.

“We are constantly seeking ways to support our students through academic rigor,” said Julia Boatner. “Cultural field trips such as this, offer students an important opportunity to add measurable depth to their education. It’s also a great exercise for teachers to align content to experiential learning.”

The tour was part of a collaborative effort to bring awareness to the John H. Johnson Museum and Educational Center located at 604 President Street and Courthouse Square in Arkansas City. An invitation to the John H. Johnson Museum was extended to Arkansas schools last month.

Friends of John H. Johnson Museum began the first leg of the tour with the interior design features of period furniture that dons the replica childhood home of John H. Johnson. The replica was designed and built as a traditional farmhouse, influenced by craftsman style architecture.

Amy Milliken, education outreach coordinator for Arkansas Department of Historic Preservation, led the second leg of the tour. This leg of the tour included the former Arkansas City High School which now serves as the Desha County Courthouse Annex, the Arkansas City Jail Museum, the Desha County Courthouse; the Furr House; and The X.O. Pindall Law Office which was built in 1882.

Geoff Wright, assistant park superintendent for Arkansas State Parks, guided the final leg of the tour, a hike on the Delta Heritage Trail. The Johnson Museum is on the trailhead.

Prior to their visit to Arkansas City, the students researched Johnson to learn about the trailblazer’s poverty-to-wealth story and his multi-million-dollar Johnson Publishing Company.

Earlier in the week, author Janis F. Kearney visited the students at their school where she presented Johnson’s life story and his legacy. Kearney, the presidential historian and diarist to former President Bill Clinton, shared Johnson’s book, Succeeding Against The Odds, and his values on leadership and life.

Arkansas City Mayor Rick Hales accompanied the guests and provided the venue for their lunch. Lunch was provided by State Rep. Don Glover (D-Dermott) and his wife, Dorothy Glover, and Janis F. Kearney, a Gould native. Beverages were sponsored by Dr. Clinton Hampton of Dermott. Transportation was sponsored by the Courtney family of Halley. The field trip host and organizer were the Friends of John H. Johnson Museum. For more information, visit johnhjohnsonmuseum.org or to schedule a tour, email [email protected]