History is alive and well in southern Minnesota, so much so in fact that students in Northfield, Minn., are writing it. In a soon-to-be-released book, Our Story: A Guide to the History of Northfield, Minnesota , eighth graders at Northfield Middle School have engaged in an innovative research and writing project that had them searching back through Northfield’s history from the early geology of the area to the present day. The 42 chapter and richly illustrated history is written in the style of a textbook and will be used in the local schools. The book is a stunning example of how teens can learn and participate in scholarly endeavors while contributing to the historical landscape of the area.
The book was written as part of the SCOPE Program (Student Community Outreach Program Experience) that is coordinated by social studies teacher, Earl Weinmann. With the cooperation of Carleton College, The Northfield Historical Society and the Northfield School District, eighth grade students researched and wrote the textbook over a two year period. With extensive assistance from Carleton College interns, interviews with local experts and exhaustive research from local sources, the eight grade students created an easy-to-read book filled with interesting tidbits about the people, places, and nuances about how Northfield came to exist, grow, and prosper.
Weinmann said, “This is a one-of-a-kind project and we couldn’t be more pleased with the way that it has come together. The students who collaborated on this project have a lot of well-
deserved pride in the finished piece. They’ve learned a great deal about research and writing and have carved out a place in history – documenting a piece of Minnesota’s past in a comprehensive book.”
An innovative educational project, The SCOPE Program provides Northfield Middle School students with the unique opportunity to combine two core curriculums – English and history – and create a tangible piece of history of benefit to the community.
Weinmann concluded, “It’s hard to imagine how much time went into a project of this caliber. More than anything, the students want readers to know that although much of the writing was done by 13- and 14-year-olds, Our Story is by no means amateur work. They spent many hours writing and re-writing to see that the authors’ voice is consistent throughout and that it presents an accurate historical account of our illustrious history.”
Our Story is published by the Northfield Historical Society Press and will be available to the public on September 19th at the Northfield Historical Society museum store. Publication costs were underwritten by Carleton College, a grant from the Northfield Area Foundation, the Northfield School District and the Northfield Historical Society. Proceeds from the sale directly support the school district’s museum youth educational programs.
The public is welcome to a book release party for the Northfield Historical Society’s newest publication, “Our Story” on September 19, at 7:00 p.m. at the Northfield Historical Society. At the book release party we will hear from the student authors of the book as well as from those who assisted the students in their journey from initial research to completed project.
For more information about Our Story, please the Northfield Historical Society
(507-645-9268) or www.northfieldhistory.org.