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History comes alive for students

By Staff
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
A classroom assignment in an honors English class has given 24 Hartselle High School sophomores an opportunity to learn more about their family histories while sharpening their research and writing skills at the same time.
Evidence of the students' work including scrapbooks, photo albums and written reports was displayed on tables in the school library and opened to public viewing Dec. 12. At the same time a reception was held for students, parents, grandparents and family friends.
Teacher Erica Griffin said she gave the assignment to her sophomore honors English students Sept. 19. The students were to research the history of their families all the way back to great grandparent and document their findings with the use of photographs, historical documents and written reports. Weekly due dates on specific segments of the project were included.
"I set up weekly deadlines to help them keep the assignment in mind," she stated. "I didn't want them to forget about it until the last week or two and have to drop everything else in order to meet the due date."
This was something new for the students and they reacted with some frustration initially," Griffin said. "But most of that passed away as they got into their projects. Now I'm proud to be able to say that they exceeded my expectations."
"My grandparents helped a lot" Ali Kimbrell ," said. "They told me how it was when they were children and related some interested stories about my mother when she was growing up. The hardest part was getting everybody in the same place at the same time to help me identify some of the old family photographs."
She added, "It was an exciting and rewarding experience. Now I have a written and a pictorial record of my family's history that I can pass on to a future generation. Hopefully, they'll do the same."
"It required you to ask a lot of questions of your family and a lot of the feedback I got was news to me," said Elizabeth Wesson. " I liked it from the start but it was hard to fully appreciate until the end when all of the parts came together. I have a greater appreciation of my family and its history that I did before."
"It's was really interesting digging through family records and pictures," said Justin English.. I learned a lot about how my grandparents lived. It was not quite the way I thought it was. This is something I will always treasure."
"It means a lot to me," said Wilder Queen. "The fun part was getting to interview my grandparents and learning about how they lived in the coal mining region of eastern. Kentucky. I appreciate my family more now and I have a written record it its history as a keepsake."

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