Elkin High School senior Taylor Osborne recently presented an exceptional graduation project to judges about the American Revolution. Osborne spent more than 100 hours of work on a project which requires a minimum of only 15 hours. He spent those hours creating three highly detailed physical models, known as dioramas, of key battles in the Southern Campaign of the American Revolution and numerous posters detailing battle facts.
All Elkin High School students are required to complete a graduation project which includes a research paper on the topic of choice, 15 hours of work supported by a mentor knowledgeable in the area of study, and a presentation of the product to judges.
Elkin High School Principal Joel Hoyle described graduation projects as a “valuable part of the high school experience as they provide students with an opportunity to acquire real world skills. Students develop important time management, organization and responsibility skills as they progress through the project.”
However, Osborne was only thinking about receiving extra credit from his history teacher, Darren Pelkey, when he began researching his project as a sophomore. His interest in the American Revolution led Pelkey to encourage him to pursue it as a topic for the graduation project.
“I’m so glad [he] talked me into it; it really opened my eyes on how big a scale the Revolution really was,” said Osborne.
In order to create realistic depictions of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, the Battle of Camden, and the Battle of Yorktown, Osborne visited every site to make the terrain and layout as accurate as possible. He then began to paint the individual figures that would be placed upon the diorama. The painting alone took him several months because of his careful attention to detail with each and every uniform the figures were wearing. After the model landscape was crafted, the figures were glued down, and modeling grass was added to the landscape to add texture.
During the process of building these models, Osborne continued to study the subject by attending battle reenactments at Camden, South Carolina and another at Guilford Courthouse in North Carolina. He also created posters to go along with the dioramas when they were ready to be put on display.
Although his project is now completed, Osborne says he plans to “continue to study the Southern Strategy and Northern Theater of the American Revolution in hopes of becoming a Revolutionary War historian someday.”
Osborne thinks he would like to teach high school history, but he has not ruled out teaching in a university.
Like many other seniors, Osborne regrets none of his project work and feels he learned a great deal through the process. As Hoyle explained, “I love seeing the pride and satisfaction students show after the completion of their presentations.”
Ryan Childress is a member of the Elkin High School Journalism Club.