It’s early evening in Friendship Cemetery, the local graveyard in Columbus, Miss. The white tombstones are coated with that yellow glow you only see right before dusk.

Students from the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science are spread out among the gravestones. They’re dressed up in costumes: A tall brunette is wearing a dark maroon dress her grandmother made. A young man wears a top hat and leans on a walking cane.

Tonight is the final dress rehearsal for Tales From The Crypt — a rite of passage for students at this school that’s now in it’s 25th year. Summar McGee, 16, and her classmates are telling the stories of the people buried in this cemetery. A journey they started back in September, in Chuck Yarborough’s U.S. history class.

Yarborough’s a history buff who loves knowing a little bit about everything — and a lot about a lot of things. His students hail from all around the state, and he prides himself with knowing a piece of history from every place they’re from.

“If I can tell them something interesting about their home place, I’m sending them the message that their place in this world matters and so do they,” he says.

Through Performance, Mississippi Students Honor Long-Forgotten Locals

Photo credit: Elissa Nadworny/NPR