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Picture Perfect: Grant helps Crockett students preserve history, photographs

Students in Kay Grogg’s photography class at David Crockett High School have spent the school year learning what makes a good photo. And thanks to a monetary grant received by the school, those students are also learning what it takes to preserve photographs.
The $3,000 grant, given by the Harris Fund of Washington County, allowed Grogg to purchase two new digital cameras, two additional computers for her class room, photo editing software, a flatbed scanner and several other supplies to help her teach students how to properly preserve old photographs.
“For me, it started out as a vehicle to get the equipment for our students to be able to use,” said Grogg, who received additional computers from the Washington County School Board as well for the project. “But it is also a service learning project for these kids.”
Scanning Our Past to Preserve Our Future, as the project is called, began at the start of the 2009-2010 school year. Students learned how to use a single lens reflex camera, scanners and computer software to put the project in motion.
A call for old photographs of the Washington County area yielded the response necessary to move the project into its next phase, where students scan the photographs and return them, along with a digital copy on CD, to their owners.
“These are close to 100 years old,” said Tyler Preskitt, pointing to a handful of photos ready to be scanned. “They are in pretty good shape.”
For photos that are not in such good shape, students work to restore the digital copies of the images through photo editing software.
“It’s extremely important to digitize and restore these old photos,” Grogg said. “It puts them in a current format that can be saved for much longer than the photo itself probably can.”
Students are receiving a unique history lesson through the project as well.
For photos depicting specific places in Washington County, the students will soon go out and shoot what those locations look like today to compare and contrast with the old photos.
“The places are so different now,” said Cassie St. John, a second year photography student. “They look way different than the original photograph.”
The yearlong project will culminate, in May, with a photography display at the Jonesborough Visitors Center, coinciding with National Historic Preservation month.
The display will include a copy of each original photograph, a restored copy of those that required restoration and a current photograph in cases where the location of the original photo is identifiable.
The project is expected to continue next school year.
Those interested in having their old photos of Washington County life preserved, can contact Grogg at 676-8685.