Students hope to draw global link on Pocahontas history trip

3/10/2017, 9:01 a.m.
Four hundred years after the death of Pocahontas, her life will be commemorated with a program designed to honor her ...
Those involved with the project include, forefront left to right, Franklin Military Academy students Lil’Meal Boyd, Saki Nowacki, Shakiyah Bolden-Jones and Alyssa Brown. Also, rear left to right, teacher Megan Scott, Principal Sheron Carter-Gunter, Commandant Carlton Day, teacher Danielle Bowers and Sen. Tim Kaine’s Central Virginia regional director, Tyee Mallory. Col. Day and Ms. Mallory are not traveling to England. Courtesy of Franklin Military Academy

By Holly Rodriguez

Four hundred years after the death of Pocahontas, her life will be commemorated with a program designed to honor her legacy, beginning with 14 Richmonders traveling to St. George’s Church in Gravesend, England, where she died in March 1617.

Replenish Richmond, a local community development organization founded by Rick Tatnall, has organized the Pocahontas History Project to weave a connection between Pocahontas’ birthplace in Virginia and her burial site in England.

Four Franklin Military Academy students and three administrators, personnel from James River Park System and members of the Eastern Chickahominy Tribe will visit England next week.

Plans for the seven-day journey that starts Thursday, March 16, include a stop in Richmond’s English namesake, Richmond upon Thames, a borough in southwest London.

“The goal is to get past the mythos and do what we can to look at Pocahontas as a real person,” Mr. Tatnall said. “We want to go beyond the myths portrayed in places like the Disney movie, ‘Pocahontas.’ ”

Upon their return, the travelers will participate in additional projects to expand upon what they know and learn about Pocahontas, daughter of Native American Chief Powhatan.

Among the four additional projects is “Richmonds of the World,” designed for students to make cultural comparisons and contrasts with cities around the world called Richmond.

Another program involves a service-learning project focused on supporting and maintaining the James River Park System trails, with a possible twin landscaping project by students in Virginia and England along the James River and the River Thames.

The study abroad experience is being funded by private donations, Mr. Tatnall said. Replenish Richmond has teamed up with Friends of Richmond Trails and the Enrichmond Foundation to raise $44,000 for the trip and to fund the four projects.

Travelers are responsible for raising $500 toward the total cost of the trip, which is $1,750 per person.