Building a timeline

MEG McINTYRE / Sentinel Staff

Keene High School social studies teacher Liz Jewett points out highlights in the school’s past on a timeline display in her classroom, created by 2019 graduate Grace Phippard during an independent study class. Students have been researching Keene High’s history for the past two years.

For students at Keene High School, history feels much closer than the pages of a textbook.

Over the past two years, students in U.S. History and American Studies classes have been working with the Historical Society of Cheshire County to research the school’s past, using primary sources such as yearbooks, student newspaper articles and school board reports to chart its history.

With sponsorship from the Keene Academy Fund, a grant fund that finances school projects at Keene High, the school plans to install a permanent timeline in its front hallway to display the students’ research. And according to Liz Jewett, a social studies teacher at Keene High, the school hopes to start the installation this year.

Students have already chronicled the 19th and 20th century, and this year they’ll tackle the school’s modern history — up to about 2018 — and begin interviewing alumni to collect oral histories, Jewett said. The school is also looking for donations of artifacts from the community, such as letter jackets, that could eventually be displayed alongside the timeline.

The plan is to introduce a digital component as well, potentially featuring QR codes on the physical timeline that will bring visitors to additional information online. The school plans to form a group to decide which events will be chronicled on the display, with all of the research available for people to see in the digital version, Jewett said.

Students have made some interesting discoveries so far. For instance, it had fallen out of memory that the high school mascot — the Blackbirds — was modeled after the mascot of a popular basketball team in Long Island, she said.

“I just think it’s really kind of brought history alive for kids,” Jewett said. “With that kind of authentic piece, I think it’s really reignited some love for the subject, you know, the relevancy for it.”

That was certainly true for 2019 graduate Grace Phippard of Chesterfield. After working on the project in her Advanced Placement U.S. History class junior year, Phippard decided to continue her research in an independent study course as a senior.

“I really liked learning about the high school’s history ... local history isn’t something that’s talked about as much, so it’s kind of like an uncharted territory in a sense,” Phippard said.

For her independent study project, Phippard reviewed the students’ research from the 20th century to fill in any gaps, and scanned and archived sources to create a database for students to pull from in the future. She then developed a timeline representing just the 1900s, which is still on display in Jewett’s classroom.

And while she said it’s difficult to choose a favorite event in the school’s history, one interesting tidbit she found was that the school stopped running annual trips to Washington, D.C., after a student became lost in the city for several days during a visit in 1918.

She says the project continues to have an effect on her interests today. Now a student at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., she’s taking history courses there and considering a major in the subject.

“I think it’s a really unique experience to learn about something that you’re so connected to. That’s why it was so fascinating for me, is because history in a lot of senses is related to our present and our lives. But researching the high school you go to is just so directly related,” Phippard said. “ ... And it really helps you appreciate the world and the community that you live in.”

Anyone who’d like to contribute stories or artifacts to the project can contact Kelly Budd, director of curriculum and assessment, at kbudd@sau29.org.

ConVal student earns PSAT honor

ConVal Regional High School senior Liam McCall has been named a Commended Student in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program. Liam is one of about 34,000 students across the country to be recognized for this distinction based on their scores on the Preliminary SAT exam.

Commended students don’t qualify to move on in consideration for National Merit Scholarships, but place among the top 50,000 students nationwide in the competition.

“These students represent a valuable national resource; recognizing their accomplishments, as well as the key role their schools play in their academic development, is vital to the advancement of educational excellence in our nation,” said a spokesperson for the program. “We hope that this recognition will help broaden their educational opportunities and encourage them as they continue their pursuit of academic success.”

Liam is the son of Eric and Christine McCall of Peterborough.

St. Joe’s students celebrate fall

Saint Joseph Regional School’s student council is celebrating the changing of the colors with several festive fall-themed activities for students and parents this month. On Oct. 16, the school will host its annual scarecrow night, featuring a pie-baking contest and other fall treats such as apple cider as families make scarecrows to decorate the school’s Wilson Street fence.

On Halloween, elementary school students will mark the day with a parade, costume contest and bobbing for apples. Then the middle schoolers will attend a Halloween dance on Nov. 1, complete with costumes, dancing, refreshments, and certainly the “Monster Mash.”

Fall Mountain holds Healthy Lifestyles Month

October is Healthy Lifestyles Month at Fall Mountain Regional High School in Langdon, and this year, the annual initiative is partially focused on promoting random acts of kindness.

Students are collecting nonperishable food for a food drive challenge, and clubs, sports teams and advisory classes are completing acts of kindness — such as making blankets to donate and exchanging letters with elementary school students — in a schoolwide competition.

Throughout the month, students can participate in a range of health-related activities, including a kickball tournament, a hike up Mount Monadnock, a CPR certification class, and other physical activities such as Zumba, yoga and rock climbing.

The event also includes visits from three guest speakers. On Oct. 1, students heard from Laurie Warnock, an educator from N.H. Poison Control who spoke about the effects of vaping and other substances on the body. The speaker series continues Monday with “motivational entertainer” James Orrigo, who will discuss goal-setting, bullying and social entrepreneurship. The final speaker of the month will be former NCAA runner Eddie Slowikowski on Oct. 29, who will give a talk on developing the best version of oneself.

What’s going on in your school? Let us know! Education reporter Meg McIntyre can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1404, or mmcintyre@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter

@MMcIntyreKS.