The Anvil City Science Academy is a charter school with forty-four fifth through eighth grade students. This year, A.C.S.A. students will create a play inspired by the lives of Nome residents. They used StoryCorps as a way to record and save those stories.
Here are the beginnings of some of the stories shared during their project:
Lawyer Kirsten Bey moved to Alaska and started dog-mushing all because of a chance car ride between Valdez and Anchorage. As a child she didn’t even particularly like dogs. Now she considers herself lucky to lead the life that she lives.
James Agloinga grew up in the village of White Mountain. He considers how education can mean different things: in his family it meant learning how to hunt and help the family, while for his daughter it has meant learning academic and professional skills, such as how to use a computer.
Linda Gologergen doesn’t recall reacting strongly to Alaska becoming a state. She was a child at the time and her home in the village Savoonga on St. Lawrence Island was physically very far from where those decisions were being made. She does remember school lunches, the records her father brought back from the Indochina War, and the barge that arrived once a year to bring supplies to the island.
Most students chose subjects or events that have shaped Nome’s story. Subjects ranged from historical events, like the relocation of King Islanders to the city of Nome, the history of the William E. Beltz School, and Alaska Statehood, to significant regional pastimes such as dog mushing, flying, crabbing, and gold-mining. Students chose community members who have lived through these experiences. Sometimes those community members were complete strangers and sometimes they were relatives. Many interviews focused on the history of these events, through the lived experiences of the participants.
One of the highlights for me was visiting the middle school classrooms at the beginning of this project. In two sessions, students interviewed each other with questions they thought they’d like to be asked. By the time interviews had begun, the questions had developed even more. Some were straight forward: Who are you? Some were specific: Can you tell me about a highlight in your experience as a pilot? And some were unexpected: Did you ever consider having a mascot? Did work on the Pipeline freak you out?
In keeping with the students’ goal of the StoryCorps Anvil City Science Academy colaboration, it was a “not-boring experience”.