EAST class aids historical society project

By Wayne Bryan Originally Published May 12, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated May 10, 2013 at 10:33 a.m.
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Wayne Bryan

Malvern High School EAST students Ann Paul, left, and Sarah Crow, center, demonstrate the Hot Springs County Museum website, which is under development, at a meeting of the Hot Spring County Historical Society on Monday. Accompanied by teacher Fran Bailey, right, the students demonstrated some of the website features being created. Museum personnel hope the website will be available on the Internet by September.

A group of Hot Spring County residents are afraid the area is losing its history, and they asked a group of young people to help them save it.

“Every time you read an obituary of one of our older residents, we lose some of our history,” said Mike Burris, a former state representative and a member of the Hot Spring County Historical Society. “We need to find a way to work with these students to save that history for them and generations to come.”

The students Burris mentioned are members of the EAST (Environmental and Spatial Technology) Initiative at Malvern High School. Some 100 students at the school are involved in the EAST project-based learning, using new technologies to solve problems within their communities.

On Monday night, two EAST students and a teacher outlined some of the possible ways next year’s EAST classes could help the society record oral histories, documents and other historical materials so they can be shared with the community.

“We wanted to talk to you about what can happen if we work together,” Fran Bailey, a mathematics teacher and EAST faculty member at Malvern High School, told a meting of the historical society. “The EAST lab is partnering with the Hot Spring County Museum in developing a website that will feature virtual collections from the museum.”

MHS ninth-grader Ann Paul, who has been involved in EAST classes for five years, displayed several pages of the future website to the gathering of nearly 30 people at the society’s office on West Second Street in Malvern.

She explained some of the ways items can be featured on the site.

“One is a presentation of the homes in the county that are listed on the National Register,” Ann said. “We have taken pictures and added music, along with Mrs. West reading information about the homes.”

Janet West, whose voice is on the website program about the old homes, is director of the museum, which is on Third Street in Malvern. She said she hopes to have the website running by September.

“We do not yet have all the components needed to put the site up live,” she said. “We will need to purchase a few things, such as a monitor.”

The museum website will also include a collection of dolls, including a rare collection of dolls representing the first ladies of the United States.

Sarah Crow, a senior at Malvern High School and an EAST student, showed the historical society how the dolls have been photographed so the images can be rotated to show the front, sides and back of the dolls.

Ann said the old photographs and documents have been scanned and displayed on a computer.

“I have been going through microfilms of old newspapers that date back to around 1910,” she said. “I have been looking at the advertisements. I am now into the 1950s. I have seen things change, like there are no dairy stores anymore, but car dealers have certainly grown.”

A member of the society said EAST students started a project more than 10 years ago, talking with the oldest citizen of the county and with the family of the first American child born in the community. Students asked about the location of that information.

Bailey said he is confident the videos are still there in the many files that are archived.

Kinney Black, vice president of the society and program chairman, said he hopes the society will get organized in the summer and decide who among the older residents of the county should be interviewed.

“The kids will do the video and then transfer them to the archives,” he said.

Black also said the EAST classes have already been working with the oldest book in the county, a catalogue of brands and earmarks for cattle and hogs, some of which may date back even before Arkansas’ statehood.

“I would like to see the EAST students work with 4-H or FFA students and do some branding and earmarking from the old book,” he said. “It would bring some old arts back to life and be on record for the future.”

Burris told members of the society they should form committees and find ways to help the students preserve the county’s history.

“We appreciate these kids and the skills they have,” he said. “What we have seen tonight is just the tip of the iceberg of what they can do. We will be limited only by our imagination.”

Staff writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at (501) 244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

Tri-Lakes Edition Writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at 501-244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

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