Seeley-Swan High School Channels Empathy Through Storytelling

If you went to high school in the U.S. in the last few decades, chances are you read Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Maybe you don’t remember much of it. Or maybe it moved you so much that you still keep your copy from sophomore English on your bookshelf. Regardless, it’s a literary classic and reading it has become a rite of passage for most high schoolers in this country.

In April 2019, with the support of the Greater Montana Foundation, the Montana Media Lab helped 30 Seeley-Swan High Schoolers explore the theme of empathy in To Kill a Mockingbird through a totally different lens—their community of Seeley Lake, Mont.

It was part of a larger, ongoing Montana Media Lab initiative to help students in rural Montana schools and on Montana’s Native American reservations learn digital storytelling and news literacy skills.

The stories in this piece were recorded and edited entirely by Seeley-Swan High School students in Lori Messenger’s English class. Instruction and feedback provided by Montana Media Lab instructors Beau Baker, Rosie Costain, Maxine Speier, Eli Imadali and Anne Bailey.

The audio stories the students’ produced first aired on Montana Public Radio on February 23, 2020. Listen to their stories below.

Voices from Seeley Lake

Behind the Scenes at Seeley-Swan High School