8th Grade Field Trip


Eighth Grade Hazel Creek Trip

The eighth grade trip to Hazel Creek is a carefully designed expedition that provides students with a unique educational experience.

Preparation for the trip begins with a summer reading assignment of Daniel Quinn’s novel, Ishmael. During their first week of school in the language arts class, students discuss and write about this book which examines cultural sustainability and natural resource management. They spend the next three or four weeks studying local history through the lens of the ideas expressed in Ishmael. Topics include:


  • Settler activity in the region
  • Cherokee removal
  • Mining and logging activity
  • Forest succession
  • Boom and bust economic cycles experienced here
  • ALCOA’s development of the Little Tennessee Valley’s hydroelectric potential
  • Area conservationist, activist, and author Horace Kephart
  • The creation of the National Park
  • and finally, the construction of Fontana Dam and the ensuing North Shore Road issue.

After weeks of studying this information using Lance Holland’s Fontana, A Pocket History of Appalachia and visiting experts as a primary resource, students and teachers embark on a week-long trip up Hazel Creek where they get to see ruins of the town of Proctor and the Ritter lumber mill, the Adams-Westfeldt mine, the site of Medlin (another town on Hazel Creek), and of course, the 75-year old second growth forest of the Hazel Creek drainage. 

Students are asked to write a piece of historical fiction set on Hazel Creek. This gives staff members a vehicle to bring the history alive by examining it from the perspective of potential characters in the students’ stories. Splash dam logging is described through the eyes of a logger standing on a rock in the stream anticipating a torrent of water and logs after hearing the explosion at the dam site upstream. The North Shore road issue is described through the eyes of farmers who were relocated and veterans returning from WWII who discovered a lake where their home had been. 

Upon their return to school, students finish their historical fiction piece, process forest succession data into a research paper, and in computer skills class, they generate an informative brochure about one of the eras of local history. 

The Hazel Creek trip is one of the highlights of the 8th grade year. We are thrilled to be able to provide this rich experience for our students.

Mountain Discovery School