A series of student films about the Slocan Valley premiered last week, combining traditional storytelling with modern technology.
The screening at Mount Sentinel was the culmination of a project that has involved 120 students at all four of the valley’s public schools over the last few months.
“The idea started last spring when the opportunity came to apply for an innovation grant,” says Tamara Malloff, co-ordinator with fellow Sentinel teacher Larissa Sookro.
“We chose digital storytelling. It was important for students to reach out and connect with community members, and use the technology to make it happen.”
Slocan’s W.E. Graham school interviewed longtime residents and newcomers alike, including Gene Hird, Grigg Stone, Willo Treschow, Micheline Marr, John Gates, Pat Ashton, and Janice Burns.
Winlaw Elementary presented a history of the rail corridor in the valley — including some clever animated segments that demonstrated its evolution from home to the Sinixt First Nation to bustling locomotive highway to placid walking and biking path.
Mount Sentinel students created a series of short films on various aspects of Doukhobor history, including segments filmed at the Doukhobor Discovery Centre in Castlegar.
Brent Kennedy Elementary showed its ambitious history of education in the communities it serves, namely Passmore, Krestova, Slocan Park, Crescent Valley, South Slocan, and Bonnington.
In the film, Ray Kosiancic provides history on Crescent Valley, where his family has lived for over a century, while Dan Wack talks about teaching at the old Slocan Park Elementary — and playing volleyball in one of the classrooms.
Former Brent Kennedy principal Alex Pereverzoff and teacher Nell Plotnikoff reminisce about moving into the new school in 1977 from two-classroom schools in Crescent Valley and South Slocan. Another former principal, Al Auringer, recalls unpacking the school’s first computer — which for the first year was used exclusively for a primitive game called Breakout.
“We couldn’t imagine what else you could do with it,” he chuckles.
Malloff says the project was a learning experience for teachers as well as students, and a “marvellous” opportunity for collaboration.
“It was the first time we actually sat and worked together as educators in about a 45-kilometer radius,” she says.
Superintendent Jeff Jones, who attended the screening, called it a “really good opportunity to see how students are using today’s technology to connect with and tell stories about their past and to help them understand they’re part of an ongoing history in the valley.”
He further praised the staff involved, who “stretched themselves professionally. They recognized kids today need to be doing things differently.”
Malloff hopes to ultimately post the videos on a website.