Community Partnership: Creating an Oral History Podcast
HVRHS senior Abby Adams worked for the better part of a year to make this podcast, with materials from Pete Vermilyea’s Oral History Festival. It is 18 minutes long, and focuses on farming in the region in the 50s, and how kids passed their free time.
Abby spent part of her busy senior year at HVRHS as a paid intern for the Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area and the Housatonic Heritage Oral History Center at Berkshire Community College. During her junior year, Abby had participated in the Oral History Festival, founded over two decades ago by HVRHS Social Studies department chair Mr. Peter Vermilyea. As a student in Vermilyea’s class, Abby along with her classmates interviewed alumni from the 1950s about life in the Northwest Corner. Vermilyea and Career Experience Coordinator Dr. Mary O’Neill worked together to facilitate this internship with Judith Monochina of the Oral History Center and Dan Bolognani of Housatonic Heritage.
During the year, Abby culled through hours of recorded interviews and written transcripts from the student colleagues, created themes, wrote transitions between clips, managed sound quality, and learned how to edit content from Monochina and NPR’s consulting editor Rebecca Sheir. On June 12th, the podcast team, school leadership, HVRHS alumni from the 1950s, and invited guests gathered at the high school for the premiere of Adam’s final work. This pilot project represents the best of education: authentic learning grounded in real world experience; a collaborative approach; student accountability with adult support; intergenerational interaction; course content grounded in place; and curriculum (in this case 20th century history) brought to life. Funding for this project was made possible by the Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area.