The Oral History Center Podcast: The Oral History Festival HVRHS with Judith Monachina and Valerie Lenis Explores the 1970’s

“Housatonic in the 70s: Examining the Culture” Oral History Podcast

HVRHS 1970s Alumni Voices Explore Cultural Themes and Create a Bridge to Today

The hills are alive with oral history and HVRHS student intern Valerie has mined current student interviews with alumni from the 1970s to create a rich and thought-provoking podcast that explores the concept of culture within the school, the local community, and society at large. 

Valerie collaborated with Housatonic Heritage Executive Director Dan Bolognani, Housatonic Heritage Oral History Center at Berkshire Community College Director Judith Monachina, ECE US History instructor Peter Vermilyea, and Career Experience Coordinator Dr. Mary O’Neill to weave a historical narrative using these alumni interviews. 

During the year, Valerie met regularly with Monachina, Vermilyea, and O’Neill to guide her independent efforts. Listening to the raw interviews and analyzing the accompanying transcripts, Valerie explored emerging themes and diverse perspectives on them. She was on the lookout for segments that painted a vivid and visceral picture of high school life in the 70s. Valerie extracted particular interview clips and wrote the accompanying narrative to give context and created a fluid and cohesive final podcast.

Valerie’s immersion into local history is also one she will take with her as she graduates HVRHS and heads to Cornell University in the fall. She reflects, “Especially being a first-generation American, local history allowed me to explore the complex culture my area holds and gave me a sense of place. Hearing alumni speak of their experiences, in and out of Housatonic, allowed me to look at my own journey as an HVRHS student from a different lens. Considering that I am a person that is drawn to leaving the area and exploring new places, analyzing these interviews encouraged me to redefine the northwest corner of Connecticut, the area that I call home.”

You can listen to this podcast and other oral histories at Oral History Center Podcasts and Other Inspirations.

This oral history internship and podcast were made possible with funding from The Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area (Housatonic Heritage), which is a partnership program of the National Park Service that serves the watershed region of the Housatonic River. A priority goal for Housatonic Heritage is to engage youth and young adults in the region’s heritage and to immerse them in the region’s rich history, culture, and natural resources.

The Housatonic Heritage Oral History Center at Berkshire Community College serves people and organizations in the Berkshires of Massachusetts and the Northwest Corner of Connecticut. It is a partnership between Housatonic Heritage and Berkshire Community College.

Special thanks to HVRHS’s Cindy Fuller, who has lent administrative support for this project.


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