As the 2020-2021 Westby High School freshmen completed their approximately 270 school days riddled with all sorts of COVID-19 restrictions every present, they soldiered on with masks, virtual learning, sporting events cancelled or postponed and their lives being nothing but upended day-to-day.
That same school year History Alive Project volunteers, Dave and Ruth Amundson, had to really condense their usual curriculum. The duo had been doing four 90-minute sessions each month with all freshmen students where they learned the saga of Norwegian immigrants to the U.S., the history of Norway during that country’s beginnings of immigration, and the story of Westby immigrants to this area. The story as to why Westby celebrates an annual Syttende Mai was reinforced.
“We have done a HAP time capsule each May of each of the seven years we have worked with our ninth-graders; we invite them to write a ‘letter to self.’ This allows them to write their reflections on their first year of high school, mentioning their hi and low points, what changed over the year and what did not. We give them a list of starter ideas to think about as they write their letters. All the letters are then sealed in envelopes and placed in the Time Capsule which is then put on a shelf in the High School safe. We open the Capsule when they are Seniors,” remarked Dave.
The Amundsons did manage to met each class the last two months of the school year. They hoped that their “crash course” lessons gave students a greater insight into Westby’s ethnic heritage.