Handley High School

May 19, 2023 by Anita Reid

Banner School Award Logo

Community Studies Class

Roanoke City Schools

Principal, Mr. Todd Cole

Superintendent, Mr. Greg Foster


Handley High School’s Community Studies class provided a unique, student-centered program with an emphasis on community-based learning experiences and hometown history. Students worked as historians to bring long forgotten people, places, and stories to light, connecting generations of citizens in Roanoke and beyond through the program’s initiatives. During the 2021-22 school year, students participated in four main projects despite combating limitations from the lasting effects of the pandemic. They collected and processed artifacts for the school archives which were used in school history labs. Student historians also researched, wrote, and recorded podcasts for sites in historic downtown Roanoke. They used this knowledge to create a downtown walking tour for 6th graders, based on 6th grade standards, and acted as tour guides. In addition, students designed and painted a mural downtown with the theme, “Love Where You Live”, to encourage affection, tourism, and economic development in their hometown. Lastly, students participated in the annual archaeological dig at a nearby site with a professional archaeologist. There, students uncovered clues to a past civilization beneath the cornfields and creek banks. History became real when the amateur archaeologists personally unearthed artifacts that were hundreds and sometimes thousands of years old to piece together the stories of those who lived long ago. This experience also helped students contemplate the legacy they would one day leave in the community.