Making a Difference

Douglas StanWiens

A few weeks before summer vacation in 2005, Douglas StanWiens, a high school teacher in Boise, Idaho, gave his students an assignment: Research the history of a local building. StanWiens hoped the project would keep his students engaged after finishing their advanced placement tests in U.S. history. He didn't imagine that his idea would grow into the Boise Architecture Project, a collaboration among hundreds of students from three area high schools and one fourth-grade class. Students have now researched and published the histories of more than 200 buildings, led historic house tours, attended civic meetings about preservation, even protested the demolition of the Cole and Franklin elementary schools. "Given the opportunity, students participate in architectural history and preservation, and do it willingly and gladly," StanWiens says. According to Kelly Waldo, a senior at Timberline High School, the city-wide project inspired her to consider studying architecture in college and introduced her to the wealth of styles—Art Deco, Egyptian Revival, Modern—in Boise. "A lot of these buildings have a historical value that shouldn't be overlooked," Waldo says. "I've realized that Boise is a pretty cool town."

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