Students at Madison Highland Prep are working on an innovative historical project aimed at documenting 125 years of school district history.
Kerry Clark, principal of Madison Highland Prep, said the Madison Education Foundation sought his help in creating a website to showcase and maintain the foundation’s large collection of photos, news articles, documents and memorabilia, which date back to the late 1800s.
“They wanted to digitally preserve the district’s long history in a way that could be seen by people locally,” Clark explained.
The digital archives project stems from the unique partnership between Madison Highland Prep, a college prep charter high school which opened this year on the campus of Madison Park Middle School, and Madison Elementary School District, a public school district established in 1890. The new science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) high school shares a similar curriculum with Park’s STEM focus as well.
The collection, which was previously stored at the Madison Elementary School District office, will become the basis for a Tumblr website containing hundreds of images and video interviews of Madison alumni, faculty and staff.
“No one has organized the Madison district’s history before,” Clark said. “Imagine if we can bring about firsthand experiences—stories that have never been told—and make these stories about the rich history.”
Joe Kovesdy English and Digital Media instructor, is overseeing the project for Madison Highland Prep. His students first conducted inventory for several weeks on the numerous scrapbooks, photo books, framed photos and more. Those items were cataloged with dates, names, and topics/subjects. Students then began to scan the photos to ready them to upload to the site. Kovesdy estimates there are more than 1,000 photos that need to be scanned. He predicts that part alone could take a year to complete.
In the future, students will conduct oral interviews with alumni using digital cameras provided by the Madison School District.
“I think the overarching goal of the documentation project is to give Madison alumni a forum for which they can explore Madison’s history.” — Leslie FeldmanKovesdy’s goal with the project is to teach his students “digital literacy.” “I want them to be able to upload, crop and edit images, as well as record and upload videos, design and manage a website, and more,” he explains. He believes the project, still in its infancy, will eventually cross other curriculum studies, including History and Social Studies.
But it’s not just students who benefit from participation in this unique partnership. Leslie Feldman, director of the Madison Education Foundation, said the project will offer thousands of alumni, faculty and staff throughout the Valley an opportunity to access images and interviews.
“I think the overarching goal of the documentation project is to give Madison alumni a forum for which they can explore Madison’s history and also peruse photos from their time as Madison students,” Feldman explains. “With additional oral history components, the website will allow the community the opportunity to share their memories and bring some of these pictures and documents to life.”
Clark said inspiration for the project comes from the Northern Arizona University Colorado Plateau Archives, a collection of thousands of photographs, diaries, letters, interviews, films and maps. Clark, who contributed interviews for the digital archives while completing doctoral work at Northern Arizona University, said Madison Highland Prep’s project offers students a way to accurately record oral history while developing digital literacy.
Gary Emanuel, associate professor in educational leadership at Northern Arizona University, said historical projects like the one at Madison Highland Prep teach students research methods and provide schools a pathway to donors.
For more information about Madison Highland Prep’s programs and enrollment information, visit www.MadisonHighlandPrep.org.