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'The Pride' project launches at local high school

November 03, 2011

The Pride combines students at Red Mountain High School (RMHS) and Arizona State University and local experts to document, archive and exhibit the history of the school in the Mesa community, in celebration of Arizona’s centennial.

Students participating in the RMHS Lion Alliance Mentoring Program, aimed at keeping at-risk students in school, will use Arizona Humanities Council funds to generate written and oral histories, documentary film, web development, and podcasts for display in a public exhibit opening Feb. 14, 2012 in the RMHS library. This project also will establish a culture of humanities preservation at RMHS by creating a permanent repository onsite.

In the 1980s, Mesa ranked among America’s fastest-growing cities. Red Mountain High School, now one of Arizona’s largest, was built in 1988 in anticipation of the city’s expansion. Since it opened, thousands of students and hundreds of employees have passed through its doors every day, cementing its role as an important community institution.

In the year of Arizona’s Centennial, this exhibit will allow the public to engage with and be informed about our collective community history. The program will interpret of things that make this community and state unique, remarkable, and noteworthy through an engaging variety of innovative mediums. The Pride also creates a legacy of humanities preservation at RMHS, in the Mesa community, and beyond. The creation of a repository at RMHS will allow for future documentation and presentation of history.

Public history is public education

The Pride allows RMHS students to learn history by doing history, and provides an opportunity for ASU history education students to gain experience working with this effective teaching method. The project will use history to foster a deeper connection to school and community, which increases academic achievement and reduces student dropout rates.

As a part of the Lion Alliance Mentoring Program, students in the RMHS chapter of National Honor Society will mentor and work with incoming at-risk students to complete The Pride. This is a pilot project, and once successful the project’s model will be introduced to other Mesa high schools for implementation.

The Pride will utilize humanities experts and consultants in community/local history, public history, oral history, writing and new media. Experts and scholars will work closely with students, providing guidance, mentoring, and advice throughout the project. Oral history experts will guide students in conducting an interview, generating questions, along with preserving and presenting the information learned through the interview.

Public history experts from ASU's School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies will mentor students through the creation of an exhibit, from developing big questions and themes to selecting photographs and writing text, while incorporating a variety of presentation techniques.

Community and local historians will provide content knowledge to students, and offer resources for obtaining relevant historical information. New media specialists will consult with students and guide them through presenting history and humanities content using video, podcasts and web development.