Charles City eighth-grade presents Riverside Cemetery biographies
By Travis Fischer, email@example.com
Riverside Cemetery was lively on Monday, May 15, as the Charles City eighth-grade students debuted their contribution to the “Untold Stories of Riverside Cemetery.”
Since January, this year’s eighth-grade class has been working under the instruction of social studies teacher Ryan Rahmiller and language arts teacher Melanie Van Soelen to create video profiles for some of the cemetery’s denizens. Researching roughly 90 of Charles City’s historical residents, the students wrote, narrated, and edited a series of personalized biographies which have been uploaded to YouTube and can be accessed by scanning a QR code posted next to each subject’s grave.
“It’s a really cool idea,” said Jennifer Vandeventer, who produced her biography video on settler John Blunt. “People that aren’t ever thought about can have their stories told by others.”
Learning about both local history and modern video production, the biography project covered a range of skills for the students to utilize as they created something that can be enjoyed by the community.
“I think it’s pretty cool,” said Jayda Winkelman, whose project delved into the life of Ralph Marsh. “The video was fun to make.”
On Monday afternoon the class went out to the cemetery to see their hard work completed, showcasing their projects and answering questions as people came to try the new feature.
“This is a good deal,” said Steve Robel, who enjoyed meeting with the kids from site to site. “You can walk around and check things out and that’s awesome.”
Blessed with perfect spring weather in the wake of a rainy
weekend, the ground was soft enough to plant the metal stakes and sunny enough that many people came out to visit with the students and see what they produced.
“I think it’s been a great turnout,” said Van Soelen. “A lot of people are enjoying the product and think it’s something neat for the cemetery.”
The video biographies are the latest collaboration between each year’s Charles City eighth grade class and Riverside Cemetery, which has partnered since 2017 to encourage students to learn more about local history through volunteer projects.
“We’re very pleased with the turnout,” said Jeff Sisson of the St. Charles Cemetery Association. “They’ve done a phenomenal job.”
While this year’s eighth-grade class has completed its work with the cemetery, future classes will still have plenty to work on. There are thousands of potential biographies yet to be produced to add to the “Untold Stories of Riverside Cemetery” and eighth-grade teachers Ryan and Amanda Rahmiller intend to continue to support renovations to the cemetery chapel. Since
2017, the eighth-graders have raised nearly $50,000 on behalf of the chapel through fundraisers like their Trivia Night event.
In the meantime, this year’s students are happy to see that people in their community can enjoy their work and that they’ve started something can be used for years to come.
“I think it’s cool that other people get to see what we’ve done,” said Jihan Gonzales.
“It ended up with a bunch of good memories,” said Mekia Frascht. “It gives people a chance to learn about new people they’ve never known.”