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JFK exhibit debuts at the Tyrone History Museum

The Tyrone area saw the debut of a new historical exhibit on Saturday.
The exhibit, “The Assassination of John F. Kennedy: Questions from the Past”, was created by Tyrone Area Middle and High School students under the direction of teacher Kerry Naylor. It is on display in the Tyrone Borough room, which is located adjacent to the Tyrone History Museum.
According to a recent press release, the project is a collaboration between enrichment students and students in senior high digital video and art classes. It expands on a project researching the assassination of JFK that eighth grade gifted support students at Tyrone, under the direction of Naylor, complete each year.
The key element of the exhibit is a collection of oral histories offered by nine Tyrone community members, who recalled their thoughts and feelings in the days surrounding JFK’s death in 1963.
Each participant was interviewed using a series of 10 questions developed by eighth grade enrichment students in the course of their background study of Kennedy’s presidency and assassination.
The eighth grade students conducted the interviews and they were recorded and edited into documentary form by students from teacher Eric Feather’s digital video class.
Naylor noted some of those interviewed about the motorcade attended Saturday’s opening along with some of the students and their parents. He said many other members of the community attended the event.
“It was pretty exciting,” said Naylor. “The whole (process) began in September. The whole project took 86 days and 250 bucks. It’s unbelievable how efficient the kids were with what they did.
“The eighth graders all worked together and developed the list of about 10 questions,” said Naylor. “They developed those questions (and) we got some help from the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas. They led us in the right direction about the kind of questions you would ask in an oral history.”
The press release about the exhibit noted among the interviewees were the four members of the Tyrone Area School District’s Distinguished Alumni Class of 2005: Harry K. Sickler, Deanna Morrison Baird, Sam Hayes Jr. and Dr. Jody Harpster. Other interviewees included lifetime Tyrone resident and former journalist Virgie Werner and former TAHS teacher Ronald Thomas.
Following the interviews, enrichment students developed a format for presenting in museum-exhibit form the reflections of the interviewees. This also was done under the guidance of Feather, who also teaches art at Tyrone and, who helped the students to develop a common theme to tie together their work aesthetically.
“It’s a lot of work,” said Naylor. “Every picture had to be put on a film board and cut out. All the captions had to be researched and written. The kids were really efficient.”
One of the students who participated in the project, Kairann Isenberg, has visited the historic motorcade route in Dallas.
“It’s always been a real big deal to me,” said Isenberg. “It was a great honor for me to go to Dallas and study about it. Look around and actually stand on the spot where he died.”
She also spoke about the other students involved in the project.
“I think that working on this project was a great opportunity for these kids,” she said. “You talk about gifted enrichment, but you never really get to go out and show people what you are learning. I think today is a great opportunity to show the whole town (that) these kids are exceptional and this is what they can do.”
The project will continue on display until Christmas, and a copy of the documentary will be kept in Dallas in the archives of the Sixth Floor Museum in Dealy Plaza, the site of Kennedy’s shooting.
For more information on the exhibit, contact Naylor at kjnaylor@tyrone.k12.pa.us or at 684-4240, extension 3207.