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Perry County Students Uncover Hometown Secrets - abc27 WHTM

Perry County Students Uncover Hometown Secrets

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For a group of Newport High School students, the historic Landis House in their own hometown was the ideal place to combine natural curiosity with creative talents. It was a chance to utilize research techniques learned in their history classes, along with video training from communications media classes. It was an oral history project in conjunction with the Perry County Council of the Arts.

"This wasn't something you could just Google," said Communications Media student, Emily Kiner. "You actually had to do intense research and it was a once in a lifetime opportunity."

When the council inherited the Landis property from Mary Landis six years ago, little was known about the home's contents. Most artifacts were brought to Newport from Germany by the Landis family in 1933 as they fled a growing nazi threat. Among the artifacts researched by the students were a Bechstein grand piano, a 500 pound statue of the god Odin, props once used in Wagnerian operas and several mysterious paintings.

"The signature looks really butchered and it's not really clear to know who actually painted it," noted senior Aaron Fisher, pointing to a painting he researched that featured a dog sitting in front of a large box. There are some that think the box is a coffin. But, Fisher's research revealed that box organs were common at the time of this painting.

When the students completed their research, professional videographer Rand, through a PCCA artist in residence program, oversaw production of the their videos. Some of videos included interviews with friends and relatives of the Landis family that were conducted last year by the art council's staff.

Fisher said his fellow researchers are hoping that their efforts are only a beginning in uncovering many untold stories remaining in the Landis House.

"Possibly we've created building blocks, you know, the first steps in more information being found on a lot of these artifacts," he said.

In all, thirteen videos were produced and can be seen on line or captured on smart phones by Landis House visitors.

"This really neat to see all your hard work come together and make a really cool project," added Kiner.

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