Ethan Trapolino

Ethan Trapolino

A cemetery tour by candlelight among historic gravesites may seem like the setting for a Hollywood horror movie, but one such tour takes place far from California and involves history rather than horror.

The setting for this performance is Friendship Cemetery, located in Columbus, Mississippi.

Ethan Trapolino, from Lake Cormorant, is among the historical performers.

This year, students from the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science (MSMS) are producing the highly anticipated 28th annual “Tales from the Crypt.”

Winner of the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts and national finalist for The History Channel's "Save Our History" Award, “Tales” has also been featured on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.”

“Tales” is being held in conjunction with the annual Columbus Pilgrimage which runs from April 5-14.

Beginning last fall with the start of the school year, 58 MSMS students in three 11th grade U.S. history classes embarked on a project which included researching and rehearsing to bring Mississippians buried in Friendship Cemetery “back to life” through dramatic performances.

Nine of the students were chosen to develop their characters this spring for visitors to “Tales from the Crypt.” Other researchers will serve as cemetery tour guides leading visitors among the performers.

Ethan Trapolino is relating the life story of John F. Williams, a Civil War era surgeon. Trapolino’s performance includes an original folk song he wrote exploring Williams’ life and demise.

Ethan is the son of Emily & Scott Trapolino.

“History becomes personal for the students as well as the community during Tales,” said Chuck Yarborough, MSMS History teacher and project director. Through research in the extensive local history resources at the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library, Yarborough’s students learn more than just history. This was the plan of the project’s creator, the late Carl Butler, a former colleague of Yarborough’s.

“Our students develop sophisticated research and writing skills along with critical thinking,“ added Yarborough. “Then they’re challenged to turn their research into a performance in service to our community, enabling research subjects to come alive as we honor their memory for our visitors.”

“For 28 years, Tales from the Crypt students have learned not only how to research and write, but also how to make significant contributions to a local community. And we’ve been able to work with teachers across the country to develop similar programs for students and their communities, most recently in Indianapolis, Ind., and Washington, D.C.!”

The students selected to present their intriguing characters are performing during Pilgrimage on the evenings of April 6, 9, 11, & 13 from 7-9 p.m., in Friendship Cemetery on Fourth Street South, Columbus.

Tickets are available on site and are $5 for general admission, $3 for students. For more information on “Tales from the Crypt” or the Columbus Pilgrimage, contact the Columbus Cultural Heritage Foundation at 800-327-2686, or visit their website at

(1) comment

One Citizen's Voice

Good grief. Did anyone get permission from the families of these deceased folks to do this sort of thing? Very poor taste.

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