StoryCorps seeks Dougherty Valley students’ stories


In a three week project for her sophomore class, English 9 and 10 teacher Ms. Ashley DeGrano brought the nationwide StoryCorps project to Dougherty by creating interview booths around campus.

The StoryCorps project aims to collect diverse human experiences around the world by placing interview booths around America. Founded by David Isay, the first booth opened in Grand Central Terminal in New York on Oct. 2003. Each booth contained a recorder and a question sheet.

DeGrano reflected on Isay’s mission, stating, “The idea was anyone could use recording booths and interview one another and try to find out more about their story. [Isay] didn’t know how it was going to turn out. What started happening was he started getting thousands of interviews every time he checked these boxes because people really do want to have conversations about one another and about their life.”

The project has since spread across the country and became a mobile app in 2015. StoryCorps has released five books based off their collected interviews and releases a weekly podcast.

As part of an attempt to push for more project-based learning in Dougherty, DeGrano issued a three week project in which students designed and built functioning interview booths and stationed them around campus.

“I would say that overall the students were excited to build the booths. I think that the building process went well,” DeGrano said. “It was kind of a big undertaking because it was a lot of materials and it was really the first time most of these students had done anything like a project of this magnitude.”

Though publicizing the event was a bit of a challenge, the booths managed to collect about 50 interviews. Despite the challenge, DeGrano felt her students were successful, and she considers doing this project next year.

“We didn’t know how it was going to turn out, but quite a few students had conversations with one another, so it actually turned out pretty well. I’m proud of them. They’re proud of themselves,” DeGrano said. “I really liked that the students took risks. I think that it’s important to take risks in your life. Sometimes in high school, you don’t really get an opportunity to do that; its really cut and dry, very rigid and structured … I think that’s part of something that I loved watching is like them coming up with a dream and turning it into their own reality.”