BY JESSICA STEELEY
Clarkston News Staff Writer
Clarkston ninth graders connected generations through an academic service learning project in Laura Murray’s history class.
“I decided to do it because when I was in high school, I was given the assignment to interview someone about the Great Depression. I interviewed my grandfather,” Murray said. “It was interesting to me just to get the point of view from someone who lived through it. Ever since I’ve been teaching history I decided I wanted to do that for my students to give them the opportunity to interview someone who lived through an event and remembered it.”
The assignment had students interview someone born before 1955 about a significant event or life in that time period. Then, students made a project, such as a book or game, based on the interviews and shared the information with fifth graders at Clarkston Elementary.
“I like learning through interviewing like somebody who’s experienced firsthand better than textbook. It’s way easier to connect to it, especially since I interviewed somebody I was related to,” ninth grader Alyson Lesnau said.
Lesnau interviewed her grandmother about World War II. She’s thinking about becoming a teacher, and she thought it was cool to teach the fifth graders the stories too.
Tim Pope interviewed his father, who wasn’t born before 1955, but was two blocks away from the Twin Towers on 9/11, so the teacher made an exception.
“It’s awesome talking to somebody you know personally and lives with you,” Pope said. “Usually you don’t find firsthand accounts or what they were thinking in history books.”
Pope learned his dad got breakfast right near the towers that morning. He switched colleges after the attack because he feared another attack in the city.
“It was a great project. At first, I thought, ‘oh, it’s going to be a long, boring project,’ but afterwards, I’m ‘oh, this is actually interesting, I hope I get to do it again,’” Pope said.
Philip McGinty did his project on John F. Kennedy, which he interviewed his grandfather about.
“The one thing I do recall right now is when JFK was running for president he went to one of his speeches to hear him speak. He said it was completely different than on T.V.,” McGinty said. “I also enjoyed that I got to learn more about my grandpa than I ever knew, to hear his emotion was awesome.”
After students completed the projects and relayed their stories to the fifth graders, the interviewees were invited to come to the school and hear and discuss other students’ projects.
“It’s really rewarding for me. I get lots of ‘thank you, this is a wonderful idea, I wish more people would do this’,” Murray said. “They sit, they get a chance to talk and hear and it’s like real genuine conversation.”