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Friday, March 17, 2006

The Fires of 2000
   Townsend (Broadwater High School)

The high school in Townsend seems an orderly place. The principal intercepted us in the main hall and introduced himself, clearly attentive to what was happening in the building. The school was very clean, and the walls in the hallway were being cleaned during class the morning we were there. The dress code is enforced, and in most classes there’s the quiet bustle of people working.

Darlene Beck’s senior English classes are researching the forest fires of 2000 which had a dramatic impact on much of western Montana, including Broadwater County. They are using both archival sources and oral interviews. In preparation for the unit, Darlene worked with the U.S. Forest Service to gather information about the fires and to compile a list of people willing to be interviewed.

Her classes began with clear and focused directions, quietly given.  Through the classes there was a steady expectation of getting a day’s work done each day. Her teaching was driven by lots of preparation, lots of organization and lots of personal attention.

Bulletin Board: Darlene’s bulletin board--or “Heritage Resource Board” as it’s known locally--is not just a classroom decoration. It’s more the sort of tool one might find at an incident command headquarters, or anywhere a lot of data is being organized and tracked. It features articles, maps, photographs, documents, lists of interview subjects, and other information useful to people trying to get acquainted with the big story or looking for avenues for further research. During her sixties expedition, the board included plastic sleeves containing Life magazines from the sixties.

A lot of advance work is done getting the information gathered and this makes it quite easy for a student to get oriented to the topic and to form research strategies. Andrew Sanderson, Casey Ludwig (Kneeling) and Ashley Young use the
Heritage Resource board

Independent Record: Jade O’Neill and Darlene examine “Fire Storm 2000” a special edition published by the Helena Independent Record. It featured extensive coverage of the fires. Darlene had acquired one copy of the newspaper, and, serendipitously, another teacher saw it and mentioned he had acquired a classroom set, which he loaned to her. 

Amber Thomas: More serendipity. Amber Thomas had an entire box of documents and clippings which her father had organized and saved for her at the time of the fire. Amber’s family lives high in the Elkhorn Mountains, and they were evacuated due to the Maudlow-Toston Fire, 11 miles easy of Townsend. They lived in a local motel for three weeks. The fire was started by a combine in a grain field on August 15, 2000, and it quickly traveled up Deep Creek Canyon, through open Ponderosa Pine and Doug Fir. Amber’s home was the primary source of water during the fight.

Alexandra Potter: Alexandra Potter reviews a copy of the Townsend Star as Geoffrey Ward looks on. The Broadwater County Museum has bound copies of the newspaper for the entire year which they allowed to be checked out to Darlene’s class. She’s worked with the local museum extensively through the years, and they are fans of the Heritage Project, which helps a lot.

Andrew Christianson: Darlene helps Andrew Christianson with photo editing of his veteran photos. Andrew’s parents drove him to Dillon to interview his grandfather for the veterans history project.

During class, Darlene moved from student to student, seeing each one. It seemed unlikely that anyone would come to class expecting to “get by” without being noticed if he or she were unprepared. One student said Darlene’s classes were easy, because she always helped. The help came in many ways: clear directions about the “next step”, which was of a manageble size; handouts for each step which gave directions and examples of what was expected; lots of small deadlines, to check progress on the parts of the project; ready availability of materials to use in the research; personal attention to help untangle knots and plan the next step.

Darlene circulated from student to student throughout the day: “What can I do for you, Nick?” “"Mrs. Beck, can you read this?” “Yes, I’d love to.” “I need to go to my locker.” “For?” “These look like good questions. So you’re going to check out a recorder on Thursday?” Her room is organized for work. On the front table are the daily handout sheets--such things as layout intructions for a report the juniors are working on and a green sheet giving clear directions for “What to do after the interview.” The table at the side of the room has such standard tools as stacks of permission forms and the tape recorder check-out log.

Rachelle Rauser and Marcella Sherfey view the Heritage board display in the library. For a few weeks each year, Darlene does an exhibit about the Project in the library. This year she’s put up all the display panels from previous years. Some of the serendipity enjoyed by the Project is probably encouraged by the “high profile” nature of Darlene’s projects. In addition to the temporary display, the library has a permanent display case dedicated to the Heritage Project. It features changing exhibits relating to project work (and directing citizens to research files created by students). The most common use of these files is by people seeking stories told by elders who have died.

Students look at projects done by classes in previous years before starting their own projects.

Here is the homepage for The Montana Heritage Project at Broadwater High School

Posted by Michael L Umphrey on 03/17 at 02:30 PM
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© 2006 Montana Heritage Project

Monday, November 21, 2005

Broadwater High School Students Honor Local Veterans
   Townsend (Broadwater High School)

Montana Heritage Project students at Broadwater High School hosted the 6th annual recognition program on Sunday, November 20, 2005.  Students opted to delay the traditional veterans recognition program inorder to welcome home eight members of the Montana National Guard 1-163 Infantry Battalion who returned to Townsend within the past week.  Shown registering for the program are Sgt. Robert Hankins and his wife, Kelsey(Nugent).  Both are BHS graduates and former MHP participants.

“Broadwater County has a long tradition of serving its country,” said Shannon Flynn, as she welcomed approximately 130 honored veterans and guests to the Community Room.  Following the presentation of the colors, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the Star Spangled Banner, the students presented a slideshow honoring the members of the 1-163rd using the soldiers’ photos from Iraq.  Lane Gobbs, Lauren Vogl and Nathan Cox presented speeches of gratitude to all veterans before recognition was given to the 71 active military service men and women who are currently serving from Broadwater County.  Jessica Thompson recognized and expressed appreciation to 23 local veterans who also attended the ceremony. 

Caitlin Field and Nate Cox performed a violin duet of America the Beautiful prior to Kami Motta’s reading of It’s Who You Are.

Brittany Urich and Grace West performed a pinning ceremony to honor local veterans and express an appreciation from BHS students.  Pictured with his wife and family is Major Kelly Morris a member of the 1-163rd who returned home the day before the ceremony.  Kelly earned the Bronze Star while serving in Iraq. 

Following the ceremony, the students enjoyed interacting with the veterans and other guests.  Students took the opportunity to make personal contacts to pursue oral interviews and collect local stories.  “I think the program went very well,” said Jessica Thompson.  “It feels good to do something for the community and for those who have served us. 

Posted by Darlene on 11/21 at 03:31 PM
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© 2005 Montana Heritage Project

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Townsend Students Research Montana Historical Societ
   Townsend (Broadwater High School)

Students from Darlene Beck’s classes at Broadwater County High School in Townsend receive research assistance from Rich Aarstaad and Marcella Sherfy at the Montana Historical Society Library in Helena.

“I was amazed to find so much information-real, authentic, historical doumentation--at my fingertips.  The people of Montana are so very lucky to have such a valuable resource with so many helpful and knowledgable personnel available."--Caitlin Field

“The amount of information was overwhelming.  It was especially enjoyable to view the old diaries from the early 1900s.  I would love to return again.--Lauren Vogl

“It was a great experience to visit the Montana Historical Society and tour the archives.  I am excited to hopefully return someday of my own accord.” --Melanie Kimpton

“A lot of people don’t realize the incredible resource we have in the Montana Historical Society.  There is a wealth of information available on nearly any topic imaginable.  Through my experience ther, I realized what a dream the Montana Historical Society is for the Montana researcher or just someone with an interest in history.”—Shannon Flynn

Posted by Darlene on 11/08 at 01:50 PM
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© 2005 Montana Heritage Project

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Students Learn Research and Writing Skills
   Bigfork High School


“Never Underestimate the Past” was the message that Marcella Sherfey shared with Broadwater High School junior and senior heritage students.  To help launch this year’s heritage project, Marcella instructed students in historiography, a study of how to study the past.  Students eagerly listened as Marcella shared personal and real life vignettes that illustrated her six main premises of studying history: context, complexity, central issues, details, distance and detachment. 

Dave Walter shared his writing and researching expertise with Montana Heritage Project students as he presented his “Montana Council of Defense” presentation and his story on “Impeaching Judge Crum”.  Students actively questioned Dave about his reasearching, writing and editing techniques in his Jerks in Montana books. 

Posted by Darlene on 09/22 at 01:17 PM
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© 2005 Montana Heritage Project

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Townsend Students Take a Walk Down Broadway and into the 1960s
   Townsend (Broadwater County High School)

While Darlene Beck and Julie Diehl, Broadwater High School Montana Heritage Project teachers, have immersed junior English students in the 1910 era, they’ve introduced their seniors to questions surrounding the 1960s and what the community of Townsend was like—and why—during that era.

In addition, as a special, extracurriculur prooject, students in Darlene’s Advanced English IV class are concentrating on the evolution of Townsend’s main street (Broadway) from 1960 to the present

On Monday afternoon, January 31, 2005, Montana Historical Society/Preservation Office architectural historian Rolene Schliesman (black coat in front looking up) joined Mrs. Beck and Mrs. Diehl in a second in their series of walks along Broadway to document and analyze what has survived, what has been changed, and what has been lost in the past 45 years.

Rolene helped students to look for architectural features that are distinctive to particular time periods and to hunt for early details that were not quite covered over by 1940-1970s applications of plaster, rustic siding, or fake stone. 

A day later, Mrs. Beck noted that, “The students will never look at glass windows and door ways the same again.� Here, at the end of the walk, LaToya Bazemore, has begun to find architectural anomalies herself.

Mrs. Diehl, (behind videographer Josh Smith) who arrived in the Townsend area in the 1960s as a grade school student, helped students picture all the businesses that she and her parents patronized then—--businesses, and in some cases, buildings, that are gone today. 

Darlene and Julie’s seniors will now interview other community members who worked or owned businesses on Broadway, scour the community and state agency resources for historic photographs and maps, and continue to wrestle with “why� a main drag once lined with gas stations, car dealerships, hardware stores, and shoe repair shops has changed so dramatically.

Posted by Marcella Sherfy on 02/02 at 11:05 AM
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© 2005 Montana Heritage Project

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Broadwater County High School Students Learn Through Service
   Townsend (Broadwater County High School)

The following article appeared in the December 23, 2004, Townsend Star--based on material that Broadwater High School Heritage Project Teacher Darlene Beck submitted to the paper.

Broadwater High School juniors had a new twist on learning by creating their own community service projects.  After the honors junior English class concluded their reading and study of Upton Sinclair’s novel, The Jungle, the final assignment was for students to create a project that would reflect the theme of the novel. 

“You don’t have to be satisfied with America as you find it.  You can change it.â€? wrote Sinclair.  Thus, students were encouraged to make a difference; they needed to design, plan, and complete a project that would serve the Townsend community.  The goal was to alleviate some of the difficulties that were apparent in 1906 and still with us today.

Students strived to improve various aspects in the community by working with the environment, children, the elderly, and those in need during the holiday season.  Some of the service projects enhanced speech, cooperative and physical activities with children.  Some students assisted with the Christmas Connection, visited the elderly, or baked cookies with children.

Miranda Prevel and Alex Potter (next image) assist in a pre-school so students will have more interaction with people and make new friends. 


Lane Gobbs pays a holiday visit to a local senior citizen and offers a holiday basket.

Many of the students were touched by the projects and enjoyed doing something for others. 

“I truly enjoyed this project, not only because I had a good time myself, but mostly because I know that it brightened the lives of others in the community.  This project was meaningful to everyone involved.â€?

“The whole service project idea made me feel good--giving to the elderly, spending time with the 2nd graders and just seeing a smile on everyone’s face…..I really enjoyed it!�

“I know the project was meaningful to members of the community…but most of all it was meaningful to the group, because we learned we can make a difference.�

Posted by Marcella Sherfy on 01/11 at 11:33 AM
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© 2005 Montana Heritage Project

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Townsend’s Fifth Annual Veterans’ Recognition Program
   Townsend (Broadwater County High School)

On Thursday, November 11, 2004 at 3:00 p.m., Darlene Beck and her senior honors English class hosted the Broadwater High School Heritage Project’s fifth annual veterans’ recognition program.

Students greeted veterans and their families as they came into the community meeting room.

Students invited attendees to sign the guest book and consider being interviewed for class’s current 1960s research project. In fact, the printed program contained a written explanation of this year’s work including sample questions for potential interviewees to consider: how did the Vietnam War affect your life as a Broadwater County citizen; how do you view growing up in the 1960s as different from being a child today; what businesses flourished in Broadwater County then and why are they no longer here.

Darlene’s classes had decorated with streamers and one-page biographies of Broadwater County veterans whose stories students have captured over the years. 

Jimmy Shindoll emceed as other students handled a flag ceremony (Landon Rauser and Darren Johns), music, and readings of poetry and essays. In a frustrating turn of events, many of Darlene’s English students had duties at the exact same time around the corner in the gym as Townsend hosted, played in, and won the first game of the South Central Volleyball Divisional tournament. So, the students who participated in the event literally wore a variety of hats. Heidi Myers played a cadence on the drums, the “Star-Spangled Bannerâ€? on her clarinet, and a medley of patriotic songs on the piano.  Kayla Peters and Landon Rauser participated both as students and as enlisted service personnel. Three young men from the construction class took over as photographers. 

La Reiss Martinez and Josie Evans presented all of the 25 veterans and service men and women attending with a special pin. Here, Dan Hunsaker, United States Navy, 1944-1948, receives his pin from Josie. As they have done in earlier years, veterans gathered at the front of the room to receive the thanks of their community and to let students and family members take group photos. Veterans of more recent conflicts helped their older counterparts with a steadying arm and good humor.

Emily Feddes greeted visitors as “Uncle Sam� and served punch.

While Darlene, Julie Diehl, and their students may have felt the pressure of that scheduling conflict, the fifty folks in attendance did not. I was privileged to watch and listen as community members lingered over punch and cake to visit and to thank the students for remembering them.

And then I was struck once again with how formidable workdays are for our Project teachers. By the time Darlene had carried the last punch bowl back to her room, she was already talking about the next steps in her 1960s project.

Posted by Marcella Sherfy on 11/16 at 01:43 PM
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© 2004 Montana Heritage Project
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