Friday, February 13, 2009

Idlewild Elementary debuts student documentary

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Feb. 13, 2009 – Idlewild Elementary students,
parents, current and former principals and staff members will debut a
documentary tracing the history of the school. Idlewild opened in 1957
and the original building will be demolished as part of a major
renovation project. Before the construction equipment moved in, fifth-
grade students decided they wanted to learn more about their school.

"Last year's fifth graders were the first magnet class to attend
Idlewild from kindergarten through fifth grade," said Gloria Jones,
talent development/learning immersion coordinator. "I was
brainstorming with The Light Factory about a special project for the
class, and we came up with the idea for the documentary."

The History of Idlewild Elementary project was made possible by the
John Taylor Memorial Fund, which benefits The Light Factory
Contemporary Museum of Photography and Film. Every year, The Light
Factory uses proceeds from the fund to pay for a teaching artist who
works with CMS students to promote the power of image through
photography or film. Filmmaker Katlyn Wyllie worked with the class for
a small fee, which was covered by the fund.

"Some of the students were more excited about the project than others,
but they all agreed to participate," said Idlewild Principal Jane
Collins. "After starting the research, the students really got
interested in what they uncovered."

The students worked with a historian and visited the public library to
research Idlewild's history using microfiche, personnel records and
maps. They also asked the local community and CMS staff for help and
received an overwhelming response.

"We found the principal who opened the school in 1957," said Jones.
"The students tracked down and interviewed nearly all of Idlewild's
principals. One had died since retiring from CMS, but the students
interviewed his secretary."

While the students were working on the documentary, filmmaker Wyllie
moved to Washington, D.C., but continued to help with the project. The
students sent her tapes of their interviews and old photos they
discovered and Wyllie put a script together, which one of the students

"Now we have a wonderful documentary of Idlewild's history that we can
keep for years," said Jones. "Our students loved this project. One
said, 'You can tear down the walls of our school, but you can't tear
down our memories,' and that is so true."

Media Note: Students, parents, staff and members of the community are
invited to The Light Factory (345 North College Street) for the
premiere of the documentary on Sunday, Feb. 15, at 4 p.m.