Hometown heritage

Project Overview

The Hometown Heritage Project is modeled after the Foxfire books published by students at the Rabun Gap Nacoochee School in Rabun County, Georgia.  Students there began gathering stories from the elders in their surrounding community to describe the objects, practices, and cultural norms of the region.  Their findings were originally published in a magazine, but were later compiled to into a series of well-loved books.  Hometown Heritage will echo this model by having students explore the rich Appalachian heritage in our area and conduct field research that will be published in an e-book.  Moreover, the exhibition night will have students create a living history museum that interactively teaches other young people in the community about our Hometown Heritage.

Student Work


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Driving Question


How can we inspire young people to value our local heritage by telling our community’s stories in creative and meaningful ways?

Milestones & Timeline


The milestones below mimic the engineering design process and each have products associated with them.  Students receive documents and templates for each phase as they move through the project.  

Entry Event


  The Entry Event was spread out over the entire week.  On day one, students were broken into two groups.  Group 1 students started by going on a walk into the woods to collect natural ‘junk’ - twigs, leaves, rocks, bones, dirt, etc. to create some sort of functional or decorative object. This could be a mask, “painting” from natural materials, table or chair, necklace, toy, wreath, lamp shade, etc. as long as it was assembled from multiple items and/or required a non-trivial degree of craftsmanship to create. The object also needed some type of documented cultural connection - Southern Appalachia, Cherokee, or other indigenous culture from North America, Africa, Europe, Australia, etc. 


Group 2 students conducted interviews of each other and recorded, then shared their findings using the protocol below:

  1. Find a partner who you don’t know well.  

  2. Each partner will be interviewed for 20 minutes.

  3. Choose at least one question from each category in the list of questions provided to ask your partner.

  4. Take notes on what your partner says and use a voice recording app on your iPad or phone to record the interview.

  5. Ask as many questions as you need to have a 20-minute interview.

  6. After 20 minutes, switch roles from interviewer to interviewee and repeat the process.

  7. After finishing your interviews, go back through your recordings to decide on a 2-minute segment that you felt was most powerful and interesting.  

  8. Write down the time in the recording where your favorite part begins and ends.  You will share this segment with your advisory tomorrow.


The week ended with a Heritage Fair to introduce students to local crafters, historians, and elders.  Students interacted with these folks to make connections for their upcoming field research and learn about the wealth of wisdom available to them in the local area.

Phase 1: Topic Selection


During Phase 1, students will get exposed to a variety of topics through their own research and by meeting the skillful characters from our local community at the Heritage Fair.  By the end of the phase, students will choose which of the following “buckets” they want to be in and begin to narrow down their topics of interest by filling out a short proposal template.



  • Meat (animal care, butchering, preservation)

  • Gardens (garden planning, seed saving, preservation)

  • Native foods (natural history, edible plants)



  • Storytelling (Native American, pioneer, any family history)

  • Music (JAM, traditional instruments, history of local music)

  • Dance (clogging, square dance, contra - performance and history)



  • Structures (log, traditional cabins and barns - how-to and history)

  • Blacksmithing (how-to and history)

  • Making tools (flint-knapping, farm tools, kitchen/household tools)


Cottage Crafts

  • Baskets

  • Quilts

  • Tanning hides

  • Wood carving

  • Gourds (functional and decorative)


Medicine & Nature

  • Ethnobotany/natural history (plant identification and use by humans)

  • Health and natural/traditional medicine, home remedies

  • Midwifery (mother and baby care)

Milestone 1: Topic Proposal completed with mentor plan


Phase 2: Research & planning

In this phase, students will create an action plan with their team.  Students will choose teams based on common interests and then revise their research proposals to match the mission of their new teammates.  Once their groups are set, students will:


  • Create an Action Plan

  • Conduct their 1st interview

  • Establish mentors for apprenticeships / interviews

  • Conduct Initial historical research


Students will use the Interview and Action Plan document to guide their efforts during this phase. It will be reviewed and approved at Milestone 2.

Milestone 2: Action plan developed with 1st interview

Here is a documentary video by the Humans of Appalachia student group featuring interviews with their mentors

Phase 3: First Drafts & Exhibition Preparation


The students will execute their action plans during this phase and will compile their research by creating the first draft of their E-book chapters.  They will interview people and document interesting historical, environmental, and cultural connections related to their topic.  This will provide ample time before the end of the project to edit their chapters.


Students will also prepare for their exhibition during this phase. They will make and collect artifacts and come up with a design and layout for their exhibits. The end of this phase will culminate with a Dress Rehearsal and peer review of the e-books. See the Final Product criteria section below for guidance on what is expected.

Milestone 3: Dress Rehearsal & First Drafts

Phase 4: Polishing 

After submitting first drafts, students will have a cohesive story together. They will also finish their E-book chapters after soliciting feedback from peers, mentors, and teachers.  Additionally, during this phase they will refine their exhibits based on feedback from the Dress Rehearsal, gather more materials, and plan out their strategy for engaging visitors.  The phase will end with the Heritage Hoedown at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC.

Final Product: Heritage Hoedown


The final product/presentation will be reminiscent of the Heritage Fair that you witnessed during the first week of the project. Your final presentation will include the following:

  • A performance such as:

    • A living exhibit where you teach others your craft.

    • A song or dance explaining the local heritage behind it.

    • Be a storyteller, tell the audience the story of your family from this area or research an individual from the area and “become” that character.

  • Documentary Evidence:

    • Project Proposal

    • Annotated bibliography

    • Oral history interviews

    • Field Research (observations, experiences, internships, etc)

    • Photographs, graphics, and video

  • E-book Chapter:

    • Taking an example from one of the chapters of the Foxfire books, create a chapter regarding your topic to be included in a final e-book.

    • At least 500 words per team member.

    • Must include some visuals such as photographs, diagrams, links to video.

    • Be sure to use proper formatting (MLA) and cite ALL SOURCES.