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Education • Pittsburgh Neighborhoods • Polish Heritage • Pittsburgh North • Senior Citizens • Local History • New Books
For Immediate Release
Suburban Students Preserve a Slice of Urban History
Pittsburgh, May 18, 2007 -- What do you get when you combine one hyperactive teacher with 16 eager students, mix in 13 months of persistence and add liberal sprinklings of help from friends and colleagues? You get Polish Hill Remembered, a remarkable student-generated book project that celebrates the proud heritage of Pittsburgh’s Polish community. Polish Hill Remembered offers a rare look into a period of recent history that is nearly lost, except for the recollections of those who lived through it.
When the students of teacher Mary Lou Ellena’s “After School Writers Club” at Hampton Township High School undertook a project to capture memories of Polish Hill, little did they dream how the experience would affect them personally. The project involved a series of field trips to Pittsburgh’s Polish Hill neighborhood, interviews with longtime residents, numerous after school meetings and several Saturday morning working sessions. Through it all the students and their teacher developed keen insights into what it was like growing up in an ethnic enclave like Polish Hill.
Student Dana Vogel said, “When I started the Polish Hill project with my initial interviews of lifelong Polish Hill residents, I was amazed at the enthusiasm and love these residents of Polish Hill felt for their community. From this moment onward, I began learning many new and fascinating things about writing and publishing, about the residents of Polish Hill and about my own family heritage.”
“Talking to the residents of Polish Hill has given me a deep understanding of and respect for both senior citizens and the people of industrial America who shaped our modern United States culture and economy,” explained student Shaun Lawson. Student Tiffany Tupper said, “The most important part of this project was preserving a piece of Pittsburgh history that could have otherwise been forgotten.”
Their teacher, Mary Lou Ellena (who is half Polish herself), expressed it this way: “The book became a labor of love—tinged at times with frustration—for many members of the Hampton family. Although some of the participants had a few drops of Polish blood coursing through their veins, most did not. They joined the project to preserve a part of Pittsburgh’s history and left with a new respect for the culture and contributions of the people of Polish Hill, and with new skills in collaboration and cooperative learning.”
As the book project began to gain momentum, more students at Hampton High School became excited about the project. Several students from the school’s Video Club began to accompany the book team on their field trips to Polish Hill to make a video record of the project. The result is a companion two-hour DVD, called Polish Hill Revisited that includes interviews with Polish Hill residents, a tour of the streets, and several extras.
Long-time residents of Pittsburgh’s Polish Hill community will readily recognize the portrait that is presented of their old neighborhood. Paulowna Street, Herron Avenue, Brereton Street, Cargill Street, Dobson Street, Pulaski Way, and Flavan Way are remnants of a rich culture and heritage that thrived for decades a few miles from the heart of the City of Pittsburgh. That heritage today would be in danger of being forgotten if not for efforts like those of Ellena and her students.
Readers will no doubt take delight in this 148-page book that tells the story of Polish Hill through a rich combination of personal recollections, photos, recipes, factoids and clippings. The volume touches on day-to-day recollections of childhood, love and marriage, holiday traditions and faith. The result is a fascinating book that readers will enjoy over and over, while preserving a copy to pass down to their children and grandchildren.
The cost of Polish Hill Remembered is $20.00 (plus $3.50 for shipping, handling and tax). All proceeds from the sale of the book will be used to benefit the After School Writers Club, the Technology Club, and other student organizations at Hampton High School. As a bonus, purchasers of the book will also receive a complimentary copy of Polish Hill Revisited, the companion DVD that was created by the school’s Video Club. The book can be purchased by visiting the student-designed website at www.polishhillremembered.com.
Polish Hill Remembered, while not a detailed history of Pittsburgh’s Polish Hill neighborhood, is something much more rare. It’s a volume that preserves a set of remembrances and recollections from the past … a fleeting glimpse into an era and a lifestyle that soon may be lost forever.
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REQUESTS FOR COVERAGE
Book Launch Event
Saturday, June 2, 2007 from 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. at the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium and Cloister, located on the University of Pittsburgh Campus.
Interviews / Photographs / Video
Interviews with the teacher and students involved in the project may be scheduled upon request. High-resolution photographs of the teacher and students involved in the project are available upon request. Excerpts from the student-produced video are also available.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
|Pat Forest, Community Services Liaison||Mary Lou Ellena, Teacher & Gifted Coordinator|
|Hampton Township School District||Hampton Township School District|
|4951 School Drive||2929 McCulley Road|
|Allison Park PA 15101||Allison Park PA 15101|
Hampton Township School District • Administration Center • 4591 School Drive • Allison Park, Pennsylvania 15101
Telephones: (412) 492-6312, (412) 486-6000 • Fax: (412) 487-6674 • www.htsd.k12.pa.us
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Created By Nathan Radebaugh
2007 Polish Hill Remembered