With zeal, contagious excitement and energy, Jason Anderson, chair of the social studies department, teaches archaeology, a senior-level course designed to introduce students to the careers in archaeology, as well as deepen their understanding and appreciation of historical events.
Beginning in 2012 Anderson has led groups of students on a school-sponsored trip to Mount Vernon, Va., to work alongside the team of professional archaeologists at the estate of George Washington and get hands-on experience that one would only expect in an advanced-level college course.
“Hoban is the only school in the area, and possibly the state, to offer a course on archaeology,” Anderson said. “And we are the only high school in the world to have the privilege of working at Mount Vernon.”
More recently, Hoban has also been invited to dig at the William Pierce plantation in historic Jamestown, Va.
The selected students who travel to Virginia are those who choose to take a deeper dive into the course. This enhanced course is called the Center for Archaeological Studies, and the requirements are set to ensure they are capable and ready for the Virginia trip.
“Students in the Center for Archaeological Studies take on a lot of extra work in the class,” Anderson said. “They have to maintain an A in the course, complete a lengthy research paper, interview a professional archaeologist and attend additional lectures at the University of Akron. Based on their performance, they can be eligible for the trip to Virginia.”
All students in the course have the opportunity to have hands-on experience working with professional-grade excavation equipment. For his class, Anderson has created a replica of a 1760s military encampment on Hoban’s campus to allow everyone the opportunity to excavate artificial bones and other materials.
A highlight for students who do visit Virginia is working with the team of professional archaeologists. With the teleconferencing equipment in the Hoban Innovation Center, Anderson has also made this available to his entire class. Mount Vernon archaeologist Joe Downer video conferenced with the class and gave them insight about his education and profession.
“There is no textbook for what these students are doing in my class. They do a lot of background work to have this opportunity. They are commemorating the lives of people from the past. You simply cannot teach that from a book or the classroom.”