By Dr. Michelle Sherwin, Upper School English Teacher

Before Spring Break, Mrs. Walsworth’s Advanced Placement Literature classes visited the Rollins College campus in Winter Park to examine the Zora Neale Hurston collection in the Rollins College Archives. Hurston was a renowned African American author, playwright, and anthropologist of the Harlem Renaissance. After weeks of reading her most famous text,Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), MVA students learned more about the author.

This visit to Rollins College was a reminder that Zora Neale Hurston grew up in Eatonville, Florida, only four miles from campus. “I didn’t know that she was such an important figure to the Black community in Winter Park,” said senior Mellaney Wernek. “It was interesting to see her impact.” 

Rachel Walton, the Digital Archivists and Records Manager, and Wenxian Zhang, the Head of Archives and Special Collections, shared their expertise on Hurston’s collection. Students saw many of Hurston’s photographs, correspondence with Rollins professors, and early play drafts. “I learned a lot from the physical copies from the archives,” said Amelie Jaime, a Theatre Conservatory student. “From the playbills, I found that Zora loved to make abstract theatre.”

The final part of the day was a scavenger hunt across campus designed by Mrs. Walsworth. To win Eagle Bucks, the students took off in groups to solve clues and take pictures of their findings. “I thought that it was super fun walking around the campus and going off just our group for the scavenger hunt,” said Gracie McClain. “I also thought it was fun how you let us eat on Park Ave. after we had the morning of learning. I would encourage students to sign up next year.”

Overall, the adventure to Rollins College to visit the Zora Neale Hurston Collection was a resounding success!

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