Friedgen remembers one class struggling to work with each other near the beginning of the project, but ultimately coming together to write, design and star in their own movie called “Zombie Apocalypse at Emerson.” Other projects from other classes included a short story, a magazine, a year book and a comic book.

“I was so excited to see the ways in which the students co-designed and co-created their projects to celebrate the 100 year anniversary,” said Xanthia Walker, program coordinator for the Design and Arts Corps and Herberger Institute alumna. “Each group of seventh- and eighth-grade students worked with (Friedgen) and the team to design and build their projects, using the oral histories and their own lived experience of being a part of the school community as a guide.”

Undergraduate history students helped teach the Emerson students how to conduct interviews for the oral histories they collected as part of the project. One of those history students was Lakshmi Sawhney, who enjoyed watching the Emerson students become genuinely interested in discovering the pasts of people within the community. 

“I wanted to be part of a project that empowered young people to discover their own community history, even if that community did not involve me,” Sawhney said. “I wanted to be part of a project that taught students that they are not passive actors in the historical development of their community; but rather that they are active participants in the shaping of history.”

The oral histories that students did with parents, staff and Emerson alumni were recorded and edited into small audio files that were placed in relation to some of the sculptures or other art projects students made as part of the final display of the 100 year celebration.

“It is our hope that as we continue to grow this partnership, more students can become part of the collaboration from both Emerson and ASU, growing our capacity for intergenerational creative partnership,” Walker said.

Rachel Bunning

Communications program coordinator, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies