October 28, 2016
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The Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership



Of the Student, By the Student, For the Student

Service Learning Program Ready for Unveiling as

President Obama Challenges Americans to Commit to Community Service

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior Confirmed with Obama Daughters Invited

June 25, 2009, 11am Harpers Ferry Middle School


WATERFORD, VIRGINIA – On the heels of President Obama’s new Summer of Service Initiative -- United We Serve – which calls on all Americans to make community service part of their daily lives, The Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership (JTHG) is unveiling the pilot initiative for Of the Student, By the Student, For the Student – a groundbreaking service-learning program, where students create mini-movies offering their interpretation of history within their own back yards to help students from around the globe connect to that history.


With 2009 marking the 150th anniversary of the famous John Brown Raid – a raid that sparked fighting in the Civil War and for many, the beginning of the civil rights movement -- six two-minute Vodcasts, created by 6th, 7th and 8th graders from Harpers Ferry Middle School and offering their depiction of key events related to the Raid, will be revealed to the public and media for the first time.


The Vodcasts will now be included as part of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park’s official interpretive materials – a first for the National Park System – and can be downloaded online from the Harpers Ferry Historical Park’s Web site as well as from the JTHG Partnership’s website: http://www.HallowedGround.org/OfTheStudent.


The unveiling event on June 25 will feature Robert G. Stanton, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget, Department of the Interior and the Director of the newly formed Office of Youth.  In addition, the Harpers Ferry Middle School students invited President and Mrs. Obama’s daughters, Sasha and Malia to attend.


“The JTHG Partnership is honored that Deputy Assistant Secretary Stanton – a man who has dedicated much of his personal and professional life to engaging youth in our national heritage – will be present to unveil this national pilot program,” said Cate Magennis Wyatt, president of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground.


Earlier this month, Stanton said, "There is no better investment that we can make than in those who will be in charge of preserving the richness of our diverse collection of natural and cultural areas,"


Magennis-Wyatt further explained, “This innovative and collaborative program is Service Learning at its best. At a time when many National Parks see fewer visits from younger visitors, this pilot program has made it abundantly clear that middle school students are interested in their own heritage, and when offered the opportunity, can offer remarkable insight and even interpretive content that engages other students.”


“Blazing trails is not new for Harpers Ferry National Historical Park,” said John K. Jones, director of communications for the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership.  “This is an extraordinary private/public partnership that could not have happened without the commitment of the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Harpers Ferry Middle School Administration, the very engaged students, and the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation.


“It is this exceptional partnership which was forward-thinking enough to recognize that students relate best to their peers.  So why not take a look at history through their eyes, using their lens to focus on these historically significant events, bringing them to life for young people around the world to appreciate.”


Over the past five months, approximately 70 students -- under the guidance of their teachers, Principal Joe Spurgus, JTHG Partnership educators, and the Director of Interpretation at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park -- researched primary source documentation, then scripted, produced, directed, and edited the mini-movies that can be downloaded onto IPods and multimedia players for students of all ages to see and learn from.


“We know that today’s young people are connected to a high-tech media world,” said Dennis E. Frye, chief historian of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.  “We saw this as a terrific opportunity to let students connect the past to the present and retell a story in their own voices while using their own vision and their own medium.


“The immediacy of the technology combined with their fresh perspective will enrich the park experience for visitors of all ages,” Frye continued.


Based on their personal research into the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, the students selected the six parts of the John Brown story which most interested them.  With academic oversight, they then served as writers, editors, photographers, costume designers, choreographers, set designers, musicians, videographers, and even public relations representatives to produce the mini-documentaries.  They even created an invitation to Sasha and Malia Obama, requesting the First Family’s daughters join the June 25th celebrations in Harpers Ferry. 


To see the hand-written note to the Obama girls, an introductory overview video, and the Vodcasts, please go to: http://www.HallowedGround.org/OfTheStudent



When: 11 a.m. Thursday, June 25, 2009


Who:    Robert G. Stanton, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget, for the       Department of the Interior and former director of the National Park Service

Students from Harpers Ferry Middle School who created the project

            Joseph Spurgas, Harpers Ferry Middle School Principal

Cate Magennis Wyatt, President of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership Dennis Frye, Chief Historian for Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

Advisory Council on Historic Preservation


Where: Harpers Ferry Middle School Auditorium

1710 West Washington Street

Harpers FerryWV 25425



Of the Student, By the Student, For the Student was created, developed and sponsored by The Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership at the request of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, (ACHP), in conjunction with Harpers Ferry National Historical Park and Harpers Ferry Middle School. 


It’s a model intended to spur service learning at other federal and local historic properties across the nation.  It is also the first tangible result of the Advisory Council’s Service Learning Project.  Delivered at the beginning of the national observation of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, Of the Student, By the Student, For the Student is intended to inspire similar efforts where local schools, national parks, and historic preservation organizations create educational service learning programs tied to curricula to make it easy to use local heritage resources to help people better understand American history and the importance of historic places.


The Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership is working to bring its Of the Student, By the Student, For the Student program to surrounding schools, national parks and heritage areas within the JTHG National Heritage Area.  Educating teachers, students, citizens and visitors is one of the primary objectives of the JTHG Partnership.  Since its inception in 2006, this non-profit, four-state, public-private partnership has developed and underwritten a variety of educational programs, including:  the highly acclaimed Extreme Journey camps, the high-school Summer Enrichment Camp with the University of Virginia, high school programs for Loudoun County AP History classes, semester-long teacher certificate course taught through the Virginia Community College System, courses for graduate students at the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech as well as a variety of teacher workshops.


The ACHP, an independent federal agency that includes the secretaries or heads of 10 government departments and agencies, promotes the preservation, enhancement, and productive use of the nation’s historic resources, and advises the President and Congress on national historic preservation policy.  For more information, go to: AdvisoryCouncilonHistoricPreservation


Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is more than one single event in American history and has few parallels.  It is multi-layered set of events, involving a diverse number of people influenced the course of our nation's history.  Harpers Ferry witnessed the first successful application of interchangeable manufacture; the arrival of the first successful American railroad; John Brown's attack on slavery; the largest surrender of Federal troops during the Civil War; the education of former slaves in one of the earliest integrated schools in the United States and the first American meeting of the Niagara Convention led by W.E.D. DuBois.  For more information, go to: HarpersFerryHistoricalPark


The Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising national and local awareness of the unparalleled history in the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area, from Gettysburg, through Maryland, to Monticello in Albemarle CountyVA.  For more information, go to: HallowedGround.


For more information, contact:

John K. Jones,

JTHG Partnership Director of Communications





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