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College Students Clean Up Oak Cemetery Headstones In Fort Smith

FORT SMITH (KFSM) — Instead of grabbing textbooks, students at one local college picked up equipment and headed outside for a community project. The Histo...

FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- Instead of grabbing textbooks, students at one local college picked up equipment and headed outside for a community project.

The History Club at University of Arkansas - Fort Smith got hands-on experience outside of the classroom by cleaning up the historic Oak Cemetery in Fort Smith.

About 40 students were out there trying to make a difference by cleaning headstones. Twice a week the students leave the textbooks in the classroom and head out to the cemetery.

When students are out there, they clean the headstones by scraping off debris and by cleaning out the initials.

So far, students said they think they've cleaned nearly 100 headstones and don't plan to stop when the school year is over.

With some of these headstones being more than 100 years old, this project means a lot to these history majors and to the families who have loved ones buried at the cemetery.

"We don't want to forget these people who are buried here," said Jennifer Hardaway, president of the History Club. "It's our job to come out here as human beings, historians and citizens of this community and try to preserve this as much as we can."

The college students will continue doing this project throughout the summer. After Oak Cemetery is clean, they hope to move on to other historic sites throughout the community.

During the summer, the students will be teaching how to preserve headstones to anyone who is interested.