|From the left: Annandale High School student Rahel Tecle, Martha Barnes of the American History Film Project, and former Annandale student Nikki McDonald.|
The film fest was organized by the American History Film Project, a grassroots initiative founded by Martha Barnes, a student information assistant at Columbia Elementary School in Annandale.
The film by Rahel Tecle, an Annandale High School senior, features an interview with Nikki McDonald of Pittsville, Va., who was one of the first students to attend AHS when it opened Sept. 1, 1954, at a time Annandale was a rural small town. [McDonald was interviewed by the Annandale Blog in February 2014.] Tecle’s film was edited by AHS student Bailey Oliver.
The film by Ty Kvanvig and Teven Marshall of Mullen, Neb., is a how-to guide about constructing a sod house like those built by the pioneers who settled on the Plains. They are students in teacher Kelly Garcia’s seventh-grade world history class in Mullen Public Schools.
Lexi Rice, who’s also in that class, made a film about an infamous local crime that spurred a national investigation. The AHFS raised $400 to cover Garcia’s airfare so she could attend the film fest at Annandale High School. Even so, Garcia is driving over 300 miles to Denver to get a cheaper flight. “She’s coming here just to be with us,” Barnes says.
Mary Hilbrink of Cary, Ill., will participate in the film fest via Skype. Her film is about the origin of the Baby Ruth candy bar and the chocolate factory in her town.
According to Barnes, who founded AHFP eight years ago, the goal of the project is to teach students that they are an integral part of their community and its history by researching, writing, planning, and directing a 10-minute video documenting an aspect of history in their town.
“It’s really been a struggle” getting the project off the ground, Barnes says. The first school she approached, which was in Missouri and was interested in making a film about rural poverty, was closed before they even started.
“We want kids to take pride in where they live,” she says. “We want them to learn about and appreciate their local community’s history.”