Public relations students from West Virginia University’s P.I. Reed School of Journalism will be getting a lesson in history as they capture the stories of more than 20 veterans over the next three days.
This month’s recording sessions are part of the Take a Veteran to School Day program, which was announced by Sen. Jay Rockefeller on Monday. The fifth annual event, which runs from Nov. 7-15, links veterans and students in high schools throughout the state and gives veterans a chance to share their experiences with a younger generation.
School of Journalism students will visit six of the 15 schools participating in the program: Martinsburg High School, Nicholas County High School, Morgantown High School, East Fairmont High School, South Charleston High School, and Buckhannon-Upshur High School. The students will lead efforts to interview participating veterans about their wartime experiences for official submission to the Library of Congress. Five students from the School’s public relations capstone course and seven volunteers from a public relations introductory course will record and document the interviews.
Public relations senior Devin Sears, a native of Fairmont, W.Va., is the School’s team leader for the Take a Veteran to School Day program. Sears worked as a volunteer for the project when she was a sophomore. She says it is important for journalism students to get involved early with the program.
“This year, the volunteers will be running the video camera and the seniors will be conducting the interviews and asking the questions,” said Sears. “Preserving the history of our nation’s veterans is such an important project. We want SOJ students to already be trained so when they become seniors, they can keep the project going for generations to come.”
Out of more than 200,000 West Virginia veterans, more than 600 have had their stories archived in the Library of Congress. Through the School of Journalism’s efforts and the other Take a Veteran to School Day program events, an additional 30 could be added to the archive this year alone.
Since 2003, the School of Journalism has played an integral role in collecting the stories of West Virginia’s veterans for the Library of Congress American Folklife Center Veterans History Project.
School of Journalism students and faculty have recorded oral histories and collected photographs and other archival materials for submission to the national archive and have trained civic and community groups in the recording and submission process as well. Efforts spearheaded by the School of Journalism have led to the submission of more than 200 West Virginia veterans’ histories to the national project and led the Library of Congress to name the School one of its strongest partners.
The Take a Veteran to School Day program is supported by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion and the West Virginia Department of Education, as well as the West Virginia Legislature. The Legislature passed resolutions in 2009 encouraging West Virginia educators to participate in future Take a Veteran to School Day initiatives. The program’s return to West Virginia schools is made possible by the West Virginia Cable Telecommunications Association and its member companies, Suddenlink Communications, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Shentel and Armstrong, and the HISTORY� channel, who created the national initiative.
To learn more about West Virginia’s Take a Veteran to School Day program and to view photos from events, visit http://www.veteransinwv.com.
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CONTACT: Kimberly Walker, School of Journalism