Documentary showcases 50 years
JCD students create history

Wanda English Burnett

“A breath of fresh air,” is how Spencer Huffmeyer expressed his feelings about a video documentary his class (Vincennes University history students) are making at Jac-Cen-Del. The VU history class itself is something never thought of 50 years ago where students now earn college credits while still in high school.

The documentary will run throughout the evening on May 10 when the public is invited to the high school for a Showcase Open House beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Principal Johnny Budd invites not only parents of students at JCD to come, but the general public, to see what is happening at their school. He explained the Project Based Learning as the preferred method of teaching there and noted it “sets their school apart” from others.

Students’ work will be showcased beginning at 5:30 that evening. The evening will end with an art show and band spring concert which is set to begin at 7:30 p.m.

Principal Budd noted that the change in teaching style is benefitting the students, and that’s what it’s all about. He said students are learning by investigating with hands-on projects.

Such is the case with the history students who have been compiling information for the documentary going back 50 years.

The students were excited and frustrated as they maneuvered hurdles such as technology, learned people skills, and worked together as a team to produce a one-of-a kind video that in itself made history for Jac-Cen-Del.

They interviewed people who were part of the school 50 years ago, such as Sherman Lemen and Steve Gookins and more. In the process, they learned about technology, even using Skype to interview former cross-country coach Don Yentes, who is now at the University of Wyoming.

Libby Hermesch found yearbook pictures interesting from 50 years ago. She also had the honor of interviewing her grandmother, Pat Hermesch, who worked in the cafeteria years ago.

The project brought the students closer together as they struggled with a memorial to the late Don Snedaker, beloved teacher and principal. Morgan Young described the project as “fun, but, frustrating at times. It taught me patience,” she told The Versailles Republican.

History teacher Ernie Ruble said the students have been “fabulous”. He said they are gaining learning skills that will be valuable in college.

The students learned that not only has the physical building changed, and continues to change, but the technology, learning style, and so much more has seen drastic changes over the decades. They learned local history such as how the first class at JCD moved into the building the second semester, much like the anticipated move of the sixth graders next year who will be coming to the jr./sr. high school the second semester.
Jayson Purdy noted, “We’re honoring people we’ve interviewed” (by putting them in the documentary).

While junior Spencer Huffmeyer is very excited about the project, he noted there were numerous problems with even his own computer crashing last week. The software provided by the school is new, which is a blessing and a challenge as they work through the project. The new technology was actually purchased for this project with school officials knowing after it has been mastered by this group, it will be another tool other students will use as well. The students said Ron Back, technology director has been very helpful. “We’ve had a lot of cooperation from teachers,” noted Brittani Edwards.
Huffmeyer said the “hype” surrounding the project keeps him pumped. He has numerous hours dedicated to making the documentary as do other students involved. “They collectively easily have 1200 hours,” Ruble noted.

The project is a challenge but shows what a small school can do. Huffmeyer has dubbed the project, “History in the making.”

Principal Budd invites you to come to JCD next week and see the documentary for yourself. This and many other projects will be showcased in an effort to allow others to see the unique style of learning that goes on at this Project Based Learning school.