UVA Wise music faculty member Ryan Tackett Wardell has received a grant of $7,500 from the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation to launch a school outreach program in Fall 2020. 

With funding from the grant, Wardell will work with the Lonesome Pine Theater Company to bring history alive with a small touring ensemble that performs for elementary US History students in Wise County and the city of Norton. The plays will feature regional performers and musicians and be aligned with the Virginia Standards of Learning for US History taught in fifth and sixth grade.
“Our goal is to be historically accurate with period costumes and music, with lots of humor to make it a memorable learning experience for the students,” Wardell said. He is also the artistic director for The Trail of the Lonesome Pine and a graduate of Wise County Schools.
Gail Luntsford, president of Lonesome Pine Arts and Crafts, Inc., said the idea began as a conversation between Wardell and Jim Wardell, the theater’s general manager. “They were talking about wanting to do more with the local schools and their excitement was contagious, I knew it would be a good fit for Trail of the Lonesome Pine, and it all came together perfectly.”

In addition to the performances, each school will receive lesson plans and materials that can be used in the classroom to reinforce learning.
The Center for Teaching Excellence at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, Wise County Schools, and Norton City Schools have partnered in the project to develop lesson plans and materials.

“I am really grateful to Dominion Power for their support, and for Ryan who is making it all become a reality,” Lunsford said.

The Trail of the Lonesome Pine, the Official Outdoor Drama of Virginia, is performed ‪Thursday- Friday‬ every weekend in July and August at the June Tolliver Playhouse in Big Stone Gap, Virginia.