spooky, scholarly fun

As the moon rises over Columbus, Mississippi, figures rise from the graves of those long past. Some call them ghosts. Some call them memories. All call them magical.

"Tales From the Crypt" is a performance and research project created by the late Mr. Carl Butler in 1991. Butler was a history teacher at MSMS and he envisioned a project in which students would combine the best of scholarly research with the best of dramatic performance. Students involved with the project spend a semester embarking upon primary document research concerning the life of someone buried at the sprawling and picturesque Friendship Cemetery in Columbus. The cemetery is home to hundreds, if not thousands, of people who lived, worked, and died in the friendly city. Using their research, the students create a picture of the life of someone who lived in the community by transforming their research into dramatic monologues.

Mr. Chuck Yarborough explains the history and purpose of the Tales project as a part of the documentary series, "Tales from the Crypt: A Documentary Series" by West Givens and Jo Orrick.

  • Featured on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” May 25, 2015]
  • 2014 Heritage Award for Preservation Education from the Mississippi Heritage Trust
  • 2009 Award for Outstanding Use of Historical Documents in the Mississippi K-12 Classroom
  • 2005 Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts recipient
  • 2005 national Finalist for the History Channel’s Save Our History Classroom Award

Then in April, at night, at the gravesites of the people they have been researching and dressed as the people they have been researching, the students perform as their subjects for the public.

The project has won numerous awards, including the 2005 Governor's Excellence in the Arts Award, and has been featured in publications all over the country, including the Atlantic, National Public Radio's All Things Considered, and the New York Times.

The "Tales" project has been helmed by MSMS history teacher Chuck Yarborough since Mr. Butler's death in 2003. Under Yarborough's leadership, "Tales" has expanded and grown to become one of the seminal projects at MSMS.

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