Students Travel Back to the Civil War Era During Author Visit

Students Travel Back to the Civil War Era Photo 1
Students Travel Back to the Civil War Era Photo 2
In honor of Black History Month, second-graders at Clear Stream Avenue School received a special visit from Cheryl Wills, author, television journalist for New York 1 News, actress and wife of Clear Stream Avenue Principal John Singleton on Feb. 8. Ms. Wills shared her book “The Emancipation of Grandpa Sandy Wills” with students, which was based upon her own family member, Sandy Wills, who escaped slavery and joined the Civil War. 

The second-graders warmly greeted Wills as she sat at the front of the classroom and introduced herself to the students. After educating the students on her career, Ms. Wills provided background about her family history and why she created the book. She explained that after her father passed away when she was 13, she wanted to learn more about her family. While researching her family history, Ms. Wills was surprised to learn that her great-great-great grandfather fought for freedom as a solider during the Civil War. 

The students listened intently as Ms. Wills told the story of her ancestor Sandy Wills through the book’s illustrations on the SmartBoard. The story highlighted the hardships of enslaved individuals. It also taught the students about the roles of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass during the Civil War and more about how Grandpa Sandy joined the United States Colored Troops.

After the presentation, Ms. Wills showed the second-graders an image of her family tree. Students asked questions about her family and Grandpa Sandy, while also showing their sympathy. Ms. Wills travels around the country to share the story of her ancestor. 

“It’s a joy,” she said. “I want students to understand how slaves were impacted during the Civil War and to know of those who survived that time period. These people helped make America the great place it is.”