Hazen History Project
Fall of 2009 – Spring of 2018
The Hazen History Project was developed by the Advanced Placement US History classes in the 2009-10 school year. Change was sweeping across the district as the familiar ideas of previous administrations were replaced with new and different philosophies. Some of the changes impacted the students’ daily schedule as well as much beloved traditions. But we, the students and staff, found ourselves unable to defend practices we held dear because we did not know why Highlanders did what they did; we didn’t know who we were, or where we had been. This project became our way of knowing our history, of understanding Hazen’s traditions, and of getting to know our past in relationship to the present.
Each May and June, after the APUSH exam, students participated in an oral history assignment. Students chose partners and the two of them were responsible for interviewing former staff members and alumni about their relationship with Hazen. They then created a series of questions based on the only resource available – year books. Working in pairs, students learned all they could about their “guest narrator” during the interviews – some interviews lasting a couple of hours. Students then placed their narrator’s personal Hazen story in the larger historical context of Renton, Washington, and the United States. Every interview was video recorded and a summary essay was submitted. The files in the Archives Room in the Hazen Library are raw materials – no one edited the conversations or the written work. This is the work of 17-year-old juniors on a mission - to discover the history of Hazen.
As more and more Highlanders came to be interviewed, they often brought mementos, newspaper articles, souvenirs, spirit wear…..all manner of keepsakes to share with us. We gladly accepted these treasures and went about the task of sorting and filing, storing and displaying, and finally making all of it available to the staff and students as Hazen approached the 50th Anniversary. Everything we collected from dance cards to letter jackets helped us to know Hazen better. We discovered that we were more than the sum of our parts. We learned that the glue that holds us together is the sense of community spirit that was first inaugurated in the fall of 1968. We relished in the notion that the Highlands community fought a possible closing of Hazen in the early 1990s through the will-power of students, parents, and community. We laughed at the plaid shorts worn by the 1972 Basketball NPSL Champs. We came to know who we were….and more importantly, who we are.
Our thanks to the many Highlanders who agreed to talk with our young historians about their years within these walls. Their generosity of time and spirit reminds us that there never is a “last farewell among the Highland clan”. A special thank you to Diane Ferbrache, Hazen’s indomitable Librarian during the life of this project. Her valuable technological assistance allowed every interview to be digitalized. And when we needed a place to store our artifacts, Diane graciously allowed us to renovate the old periodical room in the Library.
It has been a privilege to work with these talented and gifted students. They had the vision for this project and wanted it to be “done” by 2018. While something like this is never quite finished, we are at a point in time to share our work with you. We hope you enjoy our efforts.
Social Studies and Choral Music