- Associated Press - Saturday, April 19, 2014

SEWARD, Alaska (AP) - On short notice, and with limited fanfare, a surprisingly large crowd of Sewardites turned out to preview a series of educational videos about the history of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula. The episodes starred a team of local high school student narrators including Brooke Estes, Michael Moore and Rachel Tougas and the showcase at the Seward Community Library Museum was conducted by producer Marc Swanson who, with the help of videographer Jim Pfeiffenberger, created a dozen segments with each titled for a specific place or general locale in the area.

Entitled “This is Now And That Was Then” the series was developed as a standards-based school curriculum featuring the Kenai Mountains Turnagain Arm National Historic Area. Swanson announced at the outset that the local audience might find that the material transcended the category of elementary school curriculum. The teen narrators along with some elder guest stars appeared to alternately transfix and engage the evening’s audience as the area’s past was uncovered through stories and images of familiar sights, places and names.

The imagery for the episodes previewed was largely still pictures painstakingly culled from the archives of the Resurrection Bay Historical Society and the Seward Community Library Museum through the efforts of society collections committee member Colleen Kelly and museum collections coordinator Kate Rullman. However, for example, the Moose Pass/Estes Bros. Grocery episode included historic family films of the Moose Pass patriach Ed Estes and a latter day son of Moose Pass, Jeff Estes, appeared in color to provide additional recollections and contribute depth and meaning.

Each segment was bookended by introductions and conclusions by the teen narrators, while they provided the voice over interpretation for much of the material in between. Guest narrators and contributors such as Doug Capra lent a sometimes lyrical aspect to the images and events they captured. There were often humorous anecdotes and asides included in the presentation which had special resonance in combination with episodes regarding Mount Marathon and Exit Glacier.

Source material including photos from the Hope and Sunrise Historical Society and the Cooper Landing Historical Society was incorporated into many of the episodes and was predominantly featured in vignettes with Hope, Turnagain Arm, Portage, Canyon Creek and Kenai Lake as the subjects. Each episode featured judicious use of a music soundtrack composed and performed by Jeff Troxel. Jerry Swanson and Jim Pfeiffenberger.

The video project was commissioned by KMTA NHA which was formed in 2009 by the U.S. Congress to focus on preserving and sharing the unique history of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula Corridor. The associated grassroots organization, KMTA Corridor Communities Association, has a board largely composed of Eastern Kenai Peninsula residents and the National Park Service offers some organizational and administrative support. Their website is https://www.kmtacorridor.org.

The DVD will be made available to schools upon request. However, Janet McCabe, President of the KMTA Corridor board, said that copies may be made available after distribution arrangements can be determined. The DVD course materials expand the KMTA NHA inspired Alaska Studies curriculum materials through the organization or available at their website where there are online lessons and lesson overview Powerpoint presentations for use in teaching some of the unique history and features of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula.

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