Students to Premiere Civil War Mini-Movies at Journey Through Hallowed Ground Annual Conference

Share Article

Award-Winning Of the Student, By the Student, For the Student® Program Has Engaged Students in Creating Films to Interpret Our Shared Heritage

Orange County Public School students creating film to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of The Wilderness

Over 350 middle school students affiliated with Orange County Public Schools have been taking a different approach to learn about the history that took place right in their own community. This past school year, they have been participating in the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership’s nationally award-winning Of the Student, By the Student, For the Student® service-learning project. This groundbreaking initiative engages middle-school students in interpreting the history within their own backyards. The students use primary source documents, humanities scholarship, music, dramatic readings, role-playing and digital technology to create vodcasts or mini-movies for the National Park Service. From beginning to end, the students serve as scriptwriters, actors, directors, choreographers, set designers, costume creators, videographers, and film editors to gain a deeper connection with our shared American heritage.

Their hard work and dedication will come to fruition when six vodcasts will be premiered in the coming weeks. These six vodcasts cover a variety of topics pertaining to the Battle of The Wilderness, including the Union experience, the constitutionality of secession, U.S. Colored Troops, the homefront, the environmental impact of the war, and technology of the day. These vodcasts are created to commemorate Sesquicentennial of the Battle of The Wilderness and the Overland Campaign, and the films will become official interpretative material for the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.

The program kicked off on Citizenship Day, September 17 with an assembly at Prospect Heights and Locust Grove middle schools, providing an opportunity to introduce the project to the entire seventh grade student body at both schools. Living historians were on hand to re-interpret General Lee’s and Grant's opinions of each other after their first meeting on the battlefield (Battle of The Wilderness). On October 15-16, 2013, the 370 students traveled to James Madison’s Montpelier for Immersion Day, where they worked with historians, reenactors, content experts, and Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership educators to learn numerous aspects of the war, including life as a soldier, leadership, transportation, the African American experience, and technology to lay the basis of their movie topics.

Following Immersion Day, the students then researched, wrote, and developed their movie concepts to pitch to a panel of judges, who selected the final film teams and concepts. The students worked for the next two months to further develop their scripts, characters, plot, roles, and other components of their vodcasts. In February, after weeks of delay due to inclement weather, dozens of students were transported to Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park and other sites to begin filming. Park rangers were on hand to ensure historical accuracy and assist the students as necessary.

After filming days, the students worked on post-production activities, including editing, adding audio, and more filming if necessary before being ready for their world premiere. The premiere is scheduled to take place during the JTHG Annual Conference on May 21st at the University of Virginia’s Cabell Hall, with keynote remarks by Kerry Kennedy. The students will also participate in an “Inside the Filmmakers Studio” studio session where they will be on stage talking about their experiences making the vodcasts. A second premiere will take place on May 30th at Orange County High School at 7:00 p.m. This event is open to the general pubic interested in seeing the student vodcasts.

Thousands of students across four states have already taken part in the Of the Student, By the Student, For the Student® program has engaged students at Gettysburg Area Middle School in Pennsylvania; E. Russell Hicks and Springfield Middle Schools in Maryland; Stonewall Middle School, Smart's Mill Middle School, and Sutherland Middle School in Virginia; as well as Harpers Ferry Middle School in West Virginia. The resulting mini-movies have become part of the official interpretative material for the National Park Service, including Manassas National Battlefield Park, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Gettysburg National Military Park, Antietam National Battlefield and C & O Canal National Historical Park. In addition the JTHG Partnership has brought the program to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville, VA and Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park in Leesburg, VA.

Of the Student, By the Student, For the Student® has been recognized by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, won the 2010 WOW Award from the American Association for State and Local History, and received the 2009 Freeman Tilden Award, in recognition of “outstanding contributions to interpretation or education at a National Park”. The award is designed to recognize interpreters that develop, revitalize or deliver an innovative, pioneering or otherwise worthy interpretive or educational program.

This project has been made possible with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, History, the National Park Service, Learn and Serve America, the Richard S. Reynolds Foundation, the Rust Family Foundation and the National Parks Foundation. The vodcasts can be seen at the National Park sites as well as YouTube, SchoolTube,, Comcast on Demand, and other places. For more information about the Of the Student, By the Student, For the Student® project, or the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership, visit

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

The Journey
The Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership
+1 (540) 882-4929
Email >
Visit website