The Hawthorne Project

The decision was made to participate in the Our Town project since it meets the needs of the students at Shell. The study of the child's community is part of the curriculum in 3rd, 4th and 5th grades and a project like Our Town, as proposed by the Computer Learning Foundation, gives the students opportunity to participate at different levels and to get involved in the community. The Enrichment class was elected to be responsible for the majority of the work; some 5th graders were asked to participate during their tutoring time in the Media Center. This made for real busy Wednesdays in the library during the first few months of the school year, while the students gathered information, learned about the WWW and wrote what they knew about their town. The first assignment was to compile information about Hawthorne. Students were asked to research in the Public Library and try to locate as much information as possible. A Historical Survey of Hawthorne, recently completed by the University of Florida, was located and was the bases for our history section. During the research stage, it was discovered that Larry Jeffries  had already produced a Web site for Hawthorne in the Alachua Freenet server. An e-mail was sent asking him to participate in the Hawthorne project in order to coordinate efforts in the publication of information about Hawthorne via the World Wide Web. Since then, Larry has edited some of the Hawthorne pages and added the H.A.R.A. pages to the Hawthorne site and communicated with the students in the enrichment class via e-mail.  Since we felt Larry's work was of very high quality, we consulted the Hawthorne Area Chamber of Commerce about the possibility of making Larry's pages the Official Hawthorne pages on the Internet. City Hall passed a resolution to this effect and Larry's page was added to the city menu in the Alachua Freenet server. Later on, the town's unofficial historian, Mrs. Mary Moore, and her husband, Francis Moore, were invited to give a talk to the 3rd, fourth and fifth grade students at Shell about the history of Hawthorne. Mr. Moore is a primitive painter who has devoted the last 20 years of his life to painting scenes of the old Hawthorne using newspaper clippings and old photographs as inspirations for his paintings. His father was the owner of the Hawthorne Hotel (now Hawthorne Apartments) and Mr. Moore has lived in Hawthorne all his life. Both Mr. and Mrs. Moore graciously accepted the invitation to give this presentation to the children. Mr. Moore's paintings made the presentation a hit. 

The next assignment was the photo-essay. The children were asked to take photographs around town. Each child received (courtesy of our PTA) a disposable camera with 27 photo frames and an assignment sheet specifying the subjects to photograph. The students came back with dozens of photographs - good ones - and in order to publish as many as possible, a program called Gift Construction Set was utilized to make slide shows of the town's sites and businesses. These shows are in the downtown page, the shopping page and the authors page. Children then were divided in groups of two or three to design the Hawthorne pages. They provided the page layouts and learned the basics of HTML, but the final pages were written by Mrs. Antony using mostly Windows Notepad and an old version of HotDog Pro.

During the 1997-1998 school year, Kathy Hill, one of the fourth grade teachers, had her students write about their town and enhance the Hawthorne site. A mini-grant was obtained to help finance this second part of the project. Mrs. Antony was responsible for the technical aspects of the project and was able to use Front Page as the web editor since this was one of the software packages included in the 2nd prize given by the Computer Learning Foundation last year.