• TOP pedagogy integrated into year-long academic curriculum 
  • Application of grade appropriate skills using authentic writing based on heritage and personal experience
  • Cross-curricular correlations to Virginia Standards of Learning for English, Social Studies, and fine arts based on subject area participation.
  • Inherent differentiation of instruction
  • Cultivation of a belief in the value of diversity and the gift of hearing a multitude of voices.
  • Development of social-emotional skills that cultivate confidence, pride and a sense of belonging in a global society
  • Promotion of higher-order thinking skills
  • Collaboration with area educational programs and interaction with family members, renowned authors, community, educators and facilitators
  • Use of assessment tools appropriate for grade level to show growth in written work samples collected throughout school year
  • Publication of selected student work in anthology

TOP Pedagogy Map and SOL Correlations

English/Language Arts (Grades 2-12)

  • Creative Writing
  • Rhetoric
  • Grade level required Courses
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Social Studies (Grades 2-12)

  • US & VA History
  • Geography
  • Anthropology
  • Psychology
  • Government and courses
    required for graduation
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Fine Arts

  • Visual Arts
  • Photography
  • Graphic Design
  • Painting
  • Sculpture
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Performing Arts

  • Band
  • Orchestra
  • Choir
  • Music
  • Theory
  • Theater
  • Speech & Drama
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World Languages and Culture

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Counseling Objectives

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Health and Family Life

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Teacher Reflections

The Origin Project has had a profound impact on the lives of participating students, but one in particular will—for me—always stand out. A young 5th grader who was a foster child, due to parental physical abuse and abandonment, rarely talked or smiled at the beginning of the school year. After her class began its participation in The Origin Project, she began to develop a deep interest in writing.

She looked forward to all contact with Adriana and Nancy. Her TOP journal was her treasure and she wrote in it with a surprising vigor. Reading advanced chapter books became a goal for this budding writer as she started collecting words to use in her own writing. When The Origin Project was integrated into a 5th grade Standard of Learning poetry unit, this child literally found her voice. She became a prolific little poet! Many of her complex emotions finally found a release. Peers accorded her great respect as they listened to this formerly quiet girl read poem after poem, often with dramatic emphasis.

Her life changed before my eyes with the first poem she wrote (found below), which was the one that actually was a winner in the John Fox, Jr. Literary Festival Poetry contest.

Linda Woodward, Teacher Emeritus

In working with students over the past few years, I have found that one very important component to improving student writing is conducting regular individual writing conferences. During these sessions, the student and I look over the written passage together. As the student reads the passage to me, I use the questioning strategy by asking “Who”, “What”, ”When”, “Where”, and “Why” questions to encourage the student to think more about different details that could be added to make their writing more interesting. The Origin Project has been a wonderful opportunity for students to take their work to the next level. Adriana Trigiani has been an inspiration to these students as well. She has taken the time to travel to our school to visit the students, listen to their stories, and skype with them. The growth observed in these students’ written expression is quite remarkable. Knowing that their writing will be published has added a new level of excitement in writing.

Sheila Shuler, Co-Teacher, Jonesville Middle School

Ben, like many other students, enjoyed learning about local and cultural experiences. Students practiced writing essays and responses throughout the year, but having a published piece was a substantial goal for our class. Ben and his classmates worked hard to improve writing and grammar skills over the last few months. The incentive of The Origin Project publication was crucial in setting and achieving a standard of compositional excellence in my classroom.

Dr. Crystal Hurd, Teacher, Virginia High School

Student Reflections

Abingdon, Virginia, is surrounded by blue capped mountain majesties, flowing rivers, famous trails, such as Creeper and Appalachian. The tranquil landscape transforms Southwest Virginia into an enticing wilderness infused with the theatrical pride of the United States.

In 1933, The Barter Theatre was erected from one man’s idea to have patrons pay with produce. “With vegetables you cannot sell, you can buy a good laugh.” This was the theatre’s motto during the Great Depression and is reiterated with a swelling of pride and nostalgia. At least one performance a year celebrates this unique heritage by accepting donations for an area food bank at the price of admission. People really take to the “ham for hamlet” philosophy here and show up to partake in this time-honored tradition.

Around 160,000 people attend performances at Barter Theatre yearly. From a town hall, to a fire hall, to a pound, to a Methodist church; Barter Theatre has seen many faces and has been the center of life in Abingdon for many generations.

WSHS creative writing and journalism students had the privilege of attending this renowned theatre in order to partake in The Origin Project. This writing project was started by Adriana Trigiani, an American author, who grew up in Southwestern Virginia and whose past has helped her achieve the success she has today. Adriana met with many schools under the Barter Theatre’s roof and delved into the reason for The Origin Project.

Everyone has a story and a past that defines them, whether that’s where their ancestors originated from or where their parents grew up; everyone has an “origin” which defines them. Mrs. Trigiani wanted to emphasize that no matter who you are, or where you come from, you have a story that needs to be told.
This school year, WSHS invites all students to participate in sharing their past and discovering how their origin has made them into the person they are today.

Peyton Shreve, Grade 12

Before I started going to Stonewall Jackson High School, stories to me were cool. Just cool, maybe awesome, but nothing more. I had always enjoyed hearing people’s stories and sharing mine with them, but Stonewall changed my perspective on stories. At Stonewall, stories oftentimes are heroic, inspiring, heartwarming, and sometimes very moving. They involve hardship in students’ lives and success they find through hard work. Stonewall is a giant story book, but not many people read it or even take the time to look at it. Many discuss our book, calling it ghetto, dirty or shady. Many judge our book solely on our cover, but that’s where The Origin Project comes in. They saw Stonewall for their stories and gave the students a platform to present our tales to the world, so people can see past our cover and see us for us. Through sharing our stories, I also think our class became closer knowing more about each other. It made us more unified. Even though we all come from different cultures, locations and languages, we all have cool stories to tell.

Stonewall Jackson High School TOP Student

Today we received our journals from Adriana Trigiani and Nancy Fisher. They look amazing, and I can’t wait to write! I want to take a very good care of my journal. I’m indescribably happy about this project. I personally love to write, but this makes me want to write even more. This project isn’t just about our musical heritage. It’s also about our Appalachian heritage. We have blogs, journals, and folders to write about our Appalachian roots in. It’s all about our origin!

5th Grade Student

Profound Impact

You Told Me I Couldn’t Fly

I remember you told me I couldn’t fly
Yet I soared like an eagle
I remember you told me I couldn’t be anything
I have become a girl
Who is brave and fearless
I remember you told me I wouldn’t matter
Up to nothing
I have become something
All these things you told me
I couldn’t do or be
I have accomplished and succeeded
I remember on that last bright and sunny day
You asked me that unforgettable question
That’s really hard to believe
So you shipped me off like a package
Being sent into the mail
My last words to you were that I loved you
Without a response I go
Into the darkness
With only my mother
My mother that is all