By JOHANNA SORRENTINO Southern Vermont Bureau
olonial costumes, stage guns, and white wigs became study tools for 12 Advanced Placement History students from Springfield High School.
Rather than writing analytical essays on the trial of Thomas Preston, the British captain charged with sparking the Boston Massacre by ordering his to fire into a crowd, AP History teacher Angelo Jardina suggested the class produce a short film about the shot heard around the world.
"We were doing a lot of document-based writing and students gave me the word: 'This is a lot of work. When are we going to have fun?'" Jardina said last week.
Siobhan Whittemore, 16, and Sara Gamon, 16, both of Springfield, are co-directing the film.
Whittemore said the film's central question is whether the Boston Massacre was really a massacre. The students adapted 16 depositions from Preston's trial into a script which reflects their own interpretation of the event. "This is their take on history," Jardina said.
The students have been developing the script and preparing to shoot the 30-minute film since the middle of October. The film reenacts primary documents taken from the trial as well as scenes from the trial itself.
The end of the film will feature what Jardina calls, "12 Angry Men" type of jury deliberation, with each student in the class playing themselves and debating the verdict.
Ben Reeves, 16, of Springfield is playing Preston in the film. "I don't think he ordered them to fire," he said.
Hayley Russell, 16, of Springfield is playing a soldier. He said Preston was innocent because "no one can prove he told them to fire."
Each student received training on the camera equipment from Springfield Area Public Access and each student plays a part in the film.
Jardina said this multitasking on the set gives students a sense of ownership. "Everyone gets a piece of the project."
Whittemore, who is also playing a Bostonian, said she has enjoyed planning the film and taking a more hands-on approach to learning history.
Whittemore, like every girl in the class except one, is playing a male role. The class has only two boys, but an abundance of male characters to portray.
Jessica Sasso, 16, of Springfield is playing Jane Whitehouse, the only female character. Sasso said the project is allowing her to apply what she is learning in drama class.
"I can step out of real life and be someone else," she said.
The class will soon take an exam about the Boston Massacre, and Whittemore said this experience is helping to make the facts stick.
"We were excited about doing this instead of writing," she said. "I'll remember this more."
Jardina said this trend of arts integration appeals to him and he hopes the project serves as a launch for other projects in the AP History class and throughout the school.
"The learning process of interpreting primary documents and putting them in a creative art form helps them to be students of history. Whether it gives them a higher score on their AP exam we'll have to see, but I think it's the right thing to do." he said.
The students chose the Congregational Church on Main Street in Springfield as the location for the film because of the colonial architecture and accessibility.
"The church has been so accommodating," Jardina said. "They've really opened their doors to us."
The class rented the period costumes at a reduced cost from Fancy Felix in White River Junction. The 12 costumes cost $350 and were funded through the Springfield High School History Department.
The class expects to edit the film by the middle of this week, and Jardina said each student would have a chance to try editing.
Whittemore and Sasso said they would like to host a film premiere for their families and see their work aired on Springfield Area Public Access. No air date has been scheduled.
Jardina said he is eager to give the community "a glimpse of the creativity in these students."
Source : http://www.rutlandherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051212/NEWS/512120353/1003