Last year, students in Rebecca Kelley's fourth grade class at Dumbarton Elementary School (outside Richmond, Virginia) delivered a presentation seeking state recognition for the Gv-he American Indian tribe. The project was supervised by Kelley and school librarian Suzanna L. Panter.
The goal was for the students to demonstrate how their fictitious Gv-he tribe—gv-he is Cherokee for Wildcats, the school's mascot—had maintained its Indian identity throughout history, proved their direct descent and met the Virginia state requirements of social distinction.
According to Panter, the project started by attempting to follow the criteria for state recognition as mandated by the commonwealth of Virginia. "Following these guidelines, the students began to make their own documents and other related materials. Then we got to see the actual items and documents when Chief Lynette Allston met with the students." Students made their case to a mock Virginia Council on Indians (VCI) in front of approximately 21 fellow students, a few parents and school officials, and Chief Allston of the Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia, which was awarded Virginia state recognition in February 2010.
The students reviewed hundreds of pages and documents of the Nottoway Indian tribe of Virginia's submission for state recognition, which had been presented to the VCI. "We hoped to show different perspectives of history," says Panter. "The students learned about American Indians of the past for state requirements. We also integrated fluency skills throughout the project and taught students language-art skills, how to use search engines, access and evaluate resources. It was a bonus [that] Lynette became involved. We blew the state standards of learning out of the water."
In March 2012, Dumbarton Elementary School was given two Henrico 21 awards, a school district–level award for exceptional lesson plans that incorporate 21st century skills, and the school's library was named School Library of the Year by the Virginia Association of School Librarians. This was the first time an elementary school won the award.