Holly Springs students explore 'living history'

A history class at Holly Springs High School is learning about past events, like World War II and the Great Depression, through the eyes of those who lived it.

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HOLLY SPRINGS, N.C. — To prepare for Advanced Placement tests, Beth Shaver's class read through 500 years of U.S. History – from early colonization to the modern era – in about three months.

With three weeks left in the spring semester, Shaver got the idea to bring the lessons from the pages of history into real life, putting faces with the past.

"I wanted to do something more relevant with the time," she said. "(I wanted to) make it real. These are not just history facts, they are real experiences."

The class teamed up with a local assisted living center that is allowing the high school juniors to interview residents about their memories and experiences.

After all of the interviews, students will write papers comparing the personal stories with what they read in their class. They also plan to document the project with photographs.

There are firsthand accounts of history from the Civil Rights movement to the Great Depression and World War II.

In each conversation, there's a new lesson.

"We get a personal account of history that we've learned about for so many years," junior Madison Hayes said.

"It helps me to appreciate it more, because it actually happened, and you get to hear it from those who lived it," junior Russell Galati said.

It's valuable for the residents, too.

"I'm 94 years old, and I sure appreciate talking to young people again," Frank Frees said.

For Shaver, it's a meaningful way to tie what her students learned in class with real life.

"I think it can really create a deeper love for history and hopefully a bond with other people in our community," she said.


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