Girl at the graveyard

A student from the Academy for the Arts, Science and Technology works on a cemetery project Tuesday.

It was only fitting that the start of the latest project for more than 100 students from the Academy for the Arts, Science and Technology took place on Halloween Day.

Their task at hand was to identify and map graves.

The students gathered at Ocean Woods Cemetery in Myrtle Beach Tuesday morning to initiate a project that will help families for generations to come locate the grave sites of their loved ones.

Under the guidance of computer science teacher Blake Vaught, the students began photographing each gravesite and then pinpointed its exact location using the latest in satellite technology.

Junior James Rice explained that once all of the graves have been identified, it would make life easier for those researching their family history.

In small groups, the students took photographs of each grave, noting the names of those buried. Then using a small device, a signal was sent to a GPS satellite and recorded on a portable computer, marking the exact location.

Rhiannon Greene said she was thrilled to be a part of the project, noting that she hadn’t realized the importance of GIS or computer science technology before.

“It’s great knowing how we can help families find their loved ones,” she said.

She said the information will be gathered and sent to the USGen website that’s used to search ancestry records.

Dressed in a costume, she said it was “cool” being in the cemetery on Halloween but kind of strange at the same time walking near the graves.

Ocean Woods Cemetery is owned by the city of Myrtle Beach and the city’s GIS coordinator Lisa Holzberger said the students’ project will be very beneficial to the city’s residents and visitors.

“This is an example of a great partnership the city has with Horry County Schools,” she said. “We’ll take this information and use it for a special app that will give people the ability to locate family members in our cemetery.”

Vaught said the project began on a small scale then was picked up by other majors in the school. The entertainment and arts students were recording the project and the Human Geography class students were gathering data on those buried there to create life span data.

Vaught said the project shows that GIS is a way of telling stories through mapping.

“It also prepares our students to be able to present researched information to the public,” he said.

Since there are thousands of graves in Ocean Woods, Vaught said the GIS listing could become a multi-year project. He added that he expects many of his students to do their own personal projects for their families or churches.

Contact Charles D. Perry at 843-488-7236

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I'm the editor of the Myrtle Beach Herald, a weekly newspaper serving South Carolina's Grand Strand. I cover municipal government in Myrtle Beach and Surfside Beach. Know of a good story? Call me at 843-488-7258.

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