The reach and importance of the Lucy F. Simms School is not just confined to Harrisonburg—it is an important part of the region’s history. Black families who lived up to forty miles away would travel daily to have their children educated at the Lucy F. Simms School.
This screenshot of one of the panels in the Celebrating Simms exhibit maps the journeys made by students in the Shenandoah Valley region to go to school every day at the Lucy F. Simms School.
Bringing the history of Simms to other spaces in Harrisonburg and the region has been an important goal of the Celebrating Simms project since its opening in 2016. There are now seven “branch” exhibits in schools around the region as well as a mobile exhibit that can be adapted to various public spaces. These branch exhibits extend access to the main exhibit in the Lucy F. Simms Continuing Education Center and the materials available on this website.
Harrisonburg High School, Social Studies Hall
In May 2016, members of the student and faculty team who designed the original exhibit installed a temporary version in the Social Studies hall in Harrisonburg High School.
The Celebrating Simms team that installed the temporary exhibit in the Social Studies hall of Harrisonburg High School in May 2016. From left to right: Dr. Mollie Godfrey, Kailyn Harris-Gilliam, Hannah Jones, Brett Seekford, and Raiy Pattinson. Although the exhibit was not designed to be permanent, it remained intact on the walls for five years and was regularly used in Social Studies instruction before the official version of the exhibit was installed in the main atrium of the building. Photo courtesy of Seán McCarthy.
Rockingham County High Schools
In 2017, a private donor who supports the annual Lucy F. Simms Educator of the Year Award for teachers in Harrisonburg City and Rockingham County Public Schools supported a version of the exhibit to be installed in every high school in Rockingham County.
A version of the Celebrating Simms exhibit in East Rockingham High School. The Rockingham County versions of the exhibit are shortened to focus on the life of Lucy Simms. Photo courtesy of Beau Dickenson.
Harrisonburg High School, Main Atrium
Thanks to funding from Virginia Humanities, a permanent version of the exhibit opened in February 2021 in the central atrium of the Harrisonburg High School.
The exhibit in the main atrium of Harrisonburg High School. The exhibit opened in February 2022 during an online event that attracted over 150 people. Photo courtesy of Mollie Godfrey.
Over the 2021/2022 academic year, a specially-designed mobile version of the Celebrating Simms exhibit toured numerous local municipal libraries and schools in the region, reaching over 14,000 regional library patrons, 6,000 high school students, 2,000 middle school students, as many as 19,550 James Madison University students, and others. This slideshow shows the mobile exhibit in some of the spaces it inhabited over 2021/2022: