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Dickinson Middle School students showcase community connections

Dickinson Middle School students embarked on the Humans of Dickinson project, interacting with the community by interviews and more. The students’ projects will be featured this week at the T-Rex Plaza and the Prairie Hills Mall.

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Walking into the T-Rex mall, the community can see the gallery of the Human of Dickinson, A Dickinson Middle School art project. (Josiah C. Cuellar/ The Dickinson Press)

While Dickinson Middle School students spent less time with their peers during the fall 2020 semester due to the pandemic, they were able to make new connections in the community.

They interviewed and wrote about a member of the community for the Humans of Dickinson project, which was created by teachers in the school’s 7th/8th grade split classes.

“We really wanted our students to be able to communicate and reach out to community members, especially during this time of disconnection. We wanted them to see and understand that it takes a diverse group of people to make an enriched community,” said Sarah Crossingham, history and geography teacher.

Crossingham spearheaded the project with fellow DMS teachers Sarah Ricks (English Language Arts), Erin Ehlang (English Language Arts), Ashley Williams (science) and Dan O’Brien (math).

Each student chose a member of the community to interview.

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“We also wanted students to connect with community members that they had similar interests with, so one student that is interested in law enforcement, we found an officer that they could connect with an interview. Another student, their favorite subject is science, so we connected them with a high school science teacher,” Ricks said.

The students developed their own interview questions and wrote a narrative essay on their interviewee.

“We had the students develop their interview questions which were then vetted by us before just to make sure that they had enough questions … It was just whatever the students were interested in. If they were really focused on that person’s career, that’s fine,” Crossingham said.

“I can think of a specific example where a student interviewed somebody who is a veterinarian in the community, and it ended up being a really interesting story about how she got the land that her clinic is now set on, so there was this really interesting family history story that came out of it.”

The students used various methods of communication to interview their subjects.

“A lot of the kids … were really nervous to pick up the phone and call the citizens. They weren’t comfortable with that, but by the end, they were all comfortable and willing to call on a cell phone or even Google Meet using the computer,” Ricks said.

After the interviews, the students asked for a photo of their interviewee to make a block print.

“We took that photo and through a process of tracing and transfer and carving out of linoleum, they created basically a giant stamp of that person which they then inked and pressed to make the images,” Crossingham said, describing the process of creating a block print, for which O’Brien and the art teachers at DMS and Dickinson High School assisted.

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The students’ essays and block prints are on display this week at the T-Rex Plaza and the Prairie Hills Mall.

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