"Students and Soldiers" weaves together stories from 12 Montana veterans,
as told to 30 Willard Alternative High School students
...stories that share the often harrowing, sometimes tragic and always life-changing experiences of serving in the American Military.
Montana Public Radio approached Willard Alternative High School Project in the Spring with the idea to create a class that
tags on to the Veteran's History Project that is run by the Library of
Congress. The VHP is an effort to collect firsthand oral histories of
veterans and preserve them for future generations in the American Folklife Collection at the Library of Congress.
The students also traveled to the University of Montana for a few field trips. During one
trip they visited the Montana Public Radio Station. There they met
MTPR News Director Sally Mauk and participated in an interview exercise, and Sound Engineer Beth Ann Austein demonstrated the recording process in the studio. The students also toured the School of Journalism at the
University of Montana and
heard how the skills they were learning in class can translate into a
career. During the second trip the students visited the Mansfield
Library Archives where Director Donna McCrea showed the students how
archives are kept, let them sift through some interesting pieces that
are archived in the Mansfield Archives, and lectured on the role of
primary sources in academic research.
During these weeks, project facilitator AmeriCorps Vista Member
Amanda Opitz was busy recruiting veterans to participate in the
interviews and eventually found 12 willing participants. We then split
our 30 students into groups and set them
to work researching the historical context for the time/place where
their assigned vet served.
After they finished their research, we took a week and a half and
conducted interviews at the Montana Public Radio Station on the
University of Montana campus.
The students then logged and edited their
interviews into an hour-long special that aired on the Montana
Public Radio Network on Veteran's Day (Nov. 11th) at 1pm MST. The raw audio will be
sent to the Library of Congress and archived in the American Folklife Collection in the coming weeks.
Photos: Willard Alternative High School Students visit Montana Public Radio Studios for the first time (Upper Right). Tyler Pyle takes part in an interview exercise with MTPR News Director Sally Mauk during a field trip (Left). Keifer Clark interviews Bataan Death March Survivor Ben Steele at his hotel room at the Hilton Double Tree Inn. Also pictured is MTPR Sound Engineer Beth Ann Austein (Below).
Photo Courtesy of Julie Jorgenson, Ben Steele's Daughter