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Niagara Fall High School students tell stories of local historic figures through rap

Posted at 5:33 PM, Jun 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-28 19:20:03-04

Oakwood Cemetery, founded in 1852, is the final resting place for 22,000 people, including politicians, historical figures and daredevils who dared to brave the Mighty Niagara.

"Anybody that was anybody in Niagara Falls usually ended up burying here," said Tim Baxter, Director of Operations at Oakwood Cemetery.

Students at Niagara Falls High School didn't even know about some of the historic figures, until they were asked to rap about them.

Baxter said they wanted to engage the students in learning about and sharing the story of the cemetery, and the students reacted with excitement.

Sophomore Alex Bryant rapped about the tragedy of the Pavloff family, a father who lost his wife and six children 80 years ago.

"It put the whole community in a bad, bad mood because those were well -espected people," said Bryant. "His whole family died except for him and left him depressed throughout the rest of his life."

Students also learned about school teacher Annie Edson Taylor, the first person to survive a plunge over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

She was 63 years old at the time.

"We're just thrilled that they picked up on the history that's here, and they were able to tell the story in their fashion," said Baxter.

If you're interested in learning more about the souls of the past, the cemetery is offering on-demand tours.