THE REST IS HISTORY
SPRUCE PINE – The 83 eighth-grade students at Harris Middle School, in collaboration with Penland School of Craft, recently completed a book about Mitchell County from its earliest time in history to present day.
“It was quite a challenging project from start to finish,” said Chris Hollifield, a teacher at Harris and member of the Mitchell County Historical Society Board of Directors, who coordinated and oversaw the project. “Hopefully this will be a book the students will keep for a lifetime.”
The students spent two days at Penland, one in September and one in October this past year, with Meg Peterson, teaching artist for the Penland School of Craft Community Collaboration program, learning how to make a book.
“We actually came to the school prior to them coming to Penland so we could start thinking about the type of imagery to paint for the cover,” Peterson said. “After they glued their paintings to the covers, we came and helped them sew pages in, and we also helped them craft a page about Penland and Lucy Morgan so they could synthesize imagery and writing.”
The covers images were selected and painted by the students. Some contain recognizable scenes from Mitchell County, and others were more personal.
“Some of them wanted their cover to be specifically illustrative, but not everyone did,” Peterson said. “Each student sketched the cover picture, then painted it. It was a way of trying to encourage them to be deliberate about what they chose.”
Eighth-grader Trevor McKinney said it took most of the school year to complete the book.
“We worked on it most days for at least part of the class,” McKinney said. “We worked on them at home a lot. We are all happy with the way they turned out, and we learned a lot.”
Eighth-grader Abby Cosby said she was surprised by how much Mitchell County history she had heard about in her life.
“There are a lot of things in our books I had seen or heard about and when we started talking about it for our books I was like, ‘Wait, that happened here,’” she said.