As Hartford Public Schools and the Weaver Steering Committee continue to prepare for the new Weaver High School, students from Hartford’s Journalism & Media Academy (JMA) are working with Weaver alumni to understand what it means to be a Weaver graduate. JMA is one of the three schools that will be fused into one Weaver High School, opening its new campus in the fall of 2019. To help students prepare for this transition and connect their Weaver education to their futures, the school’s administration is using its advisory block period for a project titled Humans of Weaver: Then and Now, a rendition of Humans of New York, but specific to the Weaver community.
The project began in early January with a kickoff event where students were shown a documentary on Humans of New York and introduced to their assignment. Since the kick off, students have used their 50-minute advisory period every Tuesday and Thursday to create interview questions for Weaver alumni, facilitate mock interviews, receive training on lighting, camera, audio recording equipment and photo editing software from CT Public Learning Staff, conduct the interviews, and publish short narratives with pictures from the interviews that demonstrate what it means to be a Weaver graduate. The final product of the project will be a website titled Humans of Weaver: Then and Now.
Students asked alumni the following questions:
- What did Weaver mean to you?
- What is the highlight from your time at Weaver?
- Who influenced you when you were at Weaver?
- What do you hope for in the new Weaver?
- What does it mean to be a Weaver graduate?
- How is your life now?
While each interview elicited individual memories, a common theme among all alumni was that Weaver facilitated a family-like environment that helped students create long-lasting friendships and prepared them for successful futures.
In his interview, Mark Dressler ’64 said, “the best part of high school was being part of a community. A lot of our friends today are still from Weaver, Weaver is like a big family to us.” When asked what he would like to tell Weaver students today, Dressler said, “these are the years you’ll never get back, this is a free education with so much opportunity, don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something or be who you are.”
Dan Sclare, another Weaver graduate from 1964, says he wants students to be aware of what Weaver is all about, stating, “it’s always been an amazing school, at one time it was one of the top ten high schools in the country. I think it’s important they know their education is more important than they might think it is now.”
In addition to letting students learn from Weaver alumni, the interview process allowed graduates to connect with current students and demonstrate to previous Weaver generations what it means to be a Weaver student today. Barbara Snyder ‘64 says she admires the way education has changed and was very impressed with the students who organized her interview; adding, “this girl really knew what she was doing, I learned a lot about their experiences and they were genuinely interested in what I had to say.”
Students are now in the process of transcribing their interviews and editing stills that were taken throughout each interview. Each story will be put together with an image, published as a narrative, and shared with members of the Weaver community. Weaver administrators hope this project will help students answer questions they are facing in their own futures after graduation and finding a place in their communities as “students explore the culture of their high school through their perceptions.”