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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