By Kaylene Johnson-Sullivan
A kids’ history assignment became a project that had an entire community rummaging through drawers and attics for photos. The culmination of the project, two years later, celebrated the origin of this small town of 217 people with the installation of several interpretive panels at the Moose Pass Library.
The project celebration was held during the Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival, June 16-17. Tourists and community members alike spent time looking at the display, telling stories, and reflecting on the past. As part of the celebration, students were invited to tell about themselves and the person or place they were assigned. Sixth-grader, Trevor Guernsey, who wrote about Bill Lawing said, “Personally, I like history, so it was an interesting project.”
His classmate, Casey Bryson, who researched Kenneth Condit, said, “It’s not often that kids’ work gets published like this.”
Second-grader Regan Seibert said she didn’t remember much about the assignment because she was only in kindergarten at the time but noted, “I think about the amazing people who made this town what it is today.”
Project coordinator, Willow Hetrick, spent countless hours talking to old-timers in the community, sometimes tracking them down as they checked for mail at the Moose Pass post office. She said her conversations were nothing short of delightful, as she worked more than a year to piece together the story of Moose Pass. The kids’ text was augmented by her work and then checked by Dr. Rolfe Buzzell for historical accuracy.
The newly remodeled library is open five days a week, and itself is historically significant. The inviting, modern space was at one time Moose Pass’s fire station. Where a fire truck was once parked, today the community can meet, work on computers, and check out books.
The interpretive panel project was funded by a grant from the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm (KMTA) National Heritage Area. KMTA Board President, Dan Walker, Vice President Bruce Jaffa, and Martha Story, representing Cooper Landing attended the celebration as well as Kaylene Johnson-Sullivan, former Executive Director, Nanette Stevenson, the Project Designer, and Melissa Alger, KMTA Publications Coordinator. The project included production of five interpretive panels; development of a DVD slide presentation that included hundreds of historic photographs; enlargement and framing of several historic photos for display at the library; and the printing of photos for use as postcards.
KMTA National Heritage Area supports projects that recognize, preserve, and interpret the historic, scenic, and natural recreational resources and cultural landscapes of the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm area. This project highlights KMTA’s work in the region and celebrates a small town’s history, giving people a chance to connect with the opportunities available through their National Heritage Area. New grant applications are currently being accepted through August 15th. Visit www.kmtacorridor.org/grants/ for more information.