Ryan Elementary fifth-grade teacher Kate Rambow's students are interviewing and photographing community members.
The Lafayette school's project is inspired by the blog and book "Humans of New York" by Brandon Stanton.
"Everyone has a story," said Ryan fifth-grader Phil Holmes. "It gives us an opportunity to learn about more than just ourselves."
Over two weeks, Rambow arranged for her students to interview and photograph about 20 people from a variety of backgrounds.
Their subjects included a newly engaged couple, a self-proclaimed mountain man, the principal at Centaurus High and a woman who survived a traumatic brain injury.
"Some people have sad stories, some are exciting, some are just ordinary people," said fifth-grader Dani Jones. "It's just really cool."
They recorded their interviews, and now are working to choose the more representative quotes and a photo for each person.
The students plan to display their finished work at the school's art show, scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. April 13.
"The hope is it will capture all the different people around us," Rambow said.
She said she started the project because she was looking for creative writing projects and was concerned by an overall lessening of civil discourse.
"It started as helping teach kids how to converse with each other," she said. "It became more about valuing an individual's story, about teaching them to have respect for humanity. Every single person they come across has a story that's unique."
To prepare for the project, her students studied Humans of New York and heard advice from both a professional photographer and a professional writer. They also practiced interviewing classmates and talked about biases.
To talk about biases, Rambow said, she printed out pictures and captions from Humans of New York, cutting off the captions. She asked students to use the caption to describe the person, then try to match captions with pictures.
"We talked about age, race and gender stereotypes," she said.
Her students said they started the 20-to-30 minute interviews with a list of questions, but quickly realized it worked better to go off script.
"You're just having conversations," said fifth-grader Matthew Vaver. "Everyone has something interesting about them."
Classmate Daniela Borlovan added that they key to getting people to talk more is to listen.
"You let them talk," she said.
Amy Bounds: 303-473-1341, email@example.com or twitter.com/boundsa
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