OWENSBORO, Ky. (3/25/14) – Students at Daviess County High School are participating in a special project designed to memorialize significant people, places and things in the Daviess County community.
The "Big O Research Project" was inspired by an essay on last year’s Advanced Placement English Language exam requiring students to decide what considerations should be taken into account when memorializing a person or object.
Angela Gunter, who teaches junior and senior English, AP English language, dual credit English 101 and English 102 at Daviess County High School and serves as dean of liberal arts/English department head at DCHS, adopted the essay as a class project for her students when she realized “some kids thought the National Mall was a place you might buy sneakers and slushies.”
The project for dual credit English 102 students was developed by Gunter; DCHS English teacher Sally Martin; DCHS staff developer Jennifer Higdon; and Melissa Jarboe, an English teacher at Apollo High School. (The Apollo project is focusing on historic events that are not necessarily connected to Owensboro.)
Students were challenged to selecting a subject connected to the Owensboro/Daviess County community, developing an argument about why their topic should be memorialized, and expanding their research into mini documentaries.
Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation representatives Madison Silvert, vice president for entrepreneurship and high tech development, and Joe Berry, downtown project manager, have visited the class; and Jennifer Higdon shared insights learned from her experience as a participate in Emerge Owensboro. Local historian David Wolfe gave a presentation of his “Haunts of Owensboro” stories to encourage students to take a closer look at the buildings and architecture of downtown Owensboro.
Students are scheduling interviews and making plans to photograph and videotape their subjects for documentaries that will be made available to the CVB, memorial society and individual companies’ websites, among others.
Students prepared for this process by studying interview techniques, developing questions and the importance of establishing rapport with subjects; and how to turn question-and-answer interviews into narratives.
Students will visit the Kentucky Room at the Daviess County Public Library 1 to 2 p.m. Thursday, March 27, to meet with librarian and research professional Leslie Byrne McCarty. Students will complete their interviews, photography and video work Wednesday, April 2.
About 120 students are involved.
Angela Gunter has received positive feedback from parents saying they have never seen their kids so excited about a school project.
“This is going to be a 20-page paper, but the kids are not intimidated because they are engaged and invested in their topics,” Gunter said.
“Having students research local community buildings, people, events or issues that should be memorialized for future generations is getting students interested in what is going on in their own backyard and is allowing them to explore topics about which they may have had a long-time curiosity,” Jennifer Higdon said.
Gunter plans to continue the “Big O Research Project” with future classes.
“I would love for people in the community to ‘nominate’ potential topics or individuals for future study,” she said. “There are many stories to be told in our town and I am sure we have tons of residents who would love to share their stories!”Gunter is also working with the Foundation for DCPS to identify district graduates who have gone on to careers and achievements of note.
Information provided by Lora Wimsatt
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