Turning the Pages of Hillsborough 2019

The first Community Conversations public event was held on Saturday June 1, 2019 from 2-5 p.m. at the Hillsborough Public Library. Guest speakers included Beverly Mills and Elaine Bucks, authors of If These Stones Could Talk; HHS student historians that are working towards building a catalog of human stories from our town, HHS TED-Ed speakers discussing their own journey and how it relates to history. There were musical and art presentations about the Hillsborough community.

Focus for this first event was Hillsborough's history of the people, places, and culture. Local stakeholders including BOROSafe, Safe+Sound Somerset, the Hillsborough-Millstone Municipal Alliance, and many individuals from Hillsborough, working together over the course of many months to put together a meaningful space where conversations about where we have come from could take place.

The event hosts, HHS students Gabriella Diaz and Jordan Gale, opened the event with a video they created showing some of the places that are well known and loved by the community. They then welcomed two guest-speakers Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills, authors of If These Stones Could Talk. The attendees heard moving stories about the deep history of our town and surrounding areas, dating back to the Revolutionary War. We learned about the slave trade through Perth Amboy and the connected stories from generations of people whose history was extraordinarily difficult to find and uncover. In a period of 10 years, these authors collected lost narratives that they came across of former slaves, heroes of wars who were forgotten and community builders that seemed to be otherwise erased from history. They wrote about in their book If These Stones Could Talk. The audience was inspired and also moved by the evidence and history that so many of us never knew.

A panel discussion of five students selected from a Community Connections class taught by Scott Kallens where they shared impressions of conducting in person interviews with community members on stories of diversity and meaningful conversation.In addition to the inspiring and forgotten stories told by Buck and Mills, another group of guest speakers were introduced: a panel of five young women in their sophomore year at HHS who spoke about a project they were doing in their United States History class taught by Scott Kallens. Their project entailed going around Hillsborough and creating podcast-type stories with people in the town to create a catalog of our history before it is lost in past generations. We listened to an example of their “podcasts” and heard their anecdotes of their interesting and sincere interactions as well as why they believed their project was vital to the future of this town.

Two guest speakers from the HHS TED-Ed Club Emilie Scholma and Kiley Chen spoke about what home and community means to them in TED-style talks. Scholma gave a relatable and uplifting tale about when she moved to Hillsborough and how her relationship with change went from difficult to embracing. Chen challenges the idea of “associating negativity with maturity” and how accepting optimism can be a wonderful way of thinking. Both talks further impacted the audience and partnered well with their peers’ anecdotes; the talks are on YouTube (Chen here, Scholma here), filmed from their HHS event earlier that year. The event closed with a personal account from HHS senior Isabella Ruiter who described how the community in Hillsborough has changed and grown and what potential she sees for the future. 

Participation in a workshop on what we have and have not learned about our African American history in schools.A unique aspect of this event was that the audience was in groups and sat at tables which would break out into conversation at certain times to discuss what the guest speakers said, facilitated by Hillsborough High School (HHS) and Hillsborough Middle School (HMS) students. Turning the Pages of Hillsborough was a wonderful success; a source of learning and conversation that created a common understanding of where we come from and why the history of Hillsborough is so important for the future of the community.

We are grateful to all the organizers as well as the other stakeholders in Hillsborough:

BOROSafe (part of Hillsborough Township Public Schools)

Safe+Sound Somerset

Hillsborough-Millstone Municipal Alliance (part of Hillsborough Township)

Café Brio for the sponsored coffee and refreshments


Photo Impression


(Click on collage to view a separate photo gallery Photos section.)

Video Introduction during the event 


Program Booklet

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