The release Tuesday in Glasgow of a new book, “Glasgow and Valley County, Montana,” celebrates the community, its history, prairie landscapes and a partnership with the University of Montana.

A collection of 82 photographs and 32 essays written by a dozen Glasgow High School students, the book is collaboration between UM and the high school.

“It was a real community project in the end. It’s really turned out to be a neat project,” said Linda Allie, a Glasgow High School composition teacher whose students researched and wrote the stories.

“What I feel good about is local residents writing about their lives — where we’ve been, where we are and where we hope to go,” she said.

The cooperative learning project is the brainchild of Rick Graetz, a UM geography professor, author and photographer who may be best known for founding and publishing Montana Magazine for 27 years.

A celebration of the book’s release will begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Glasgow High School auditorium with a program by Graetz and his wife, Suzie Graetz. The couple will explore the prairie landscapes through their photographs and observations.

“I’ve always been interested in the university reaching out. I truly believe we need to get back into these communities,” said Graetz, who is helping the university revive its University of Montana Press.

What better place to reach out to than an area of the state Graetz calls “Montana east of the mountains.”

“I love the Glasgow area. I spend as much time as I can on the prairies,” Graetz said.

Graetz contacted the school in the fall of 2007 to see if students were interested in writing a book.

“Well, of course,” Allie replied, she said.

By spring, Allie’s class of 10 seniors and two juniors had their assignments. The students researched their topics and interviewed people in the community including longtime ranchers, local historians and workers with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The students wrote their essays during the last 12 weeks of school — “a hard push,” Allie said.

The book includes stories on the railroad, Fort Peck Dam, agriculture, the old airbase, Milk and Missouri rivers, dinosaurs, the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, climate and weather, families and cultural life.

Graetz and Allie also recruited local amateur and professional photographers, who donated their work for the book.

A UM alumna from Glasgow, Allie said a third of the student authors are graduating from college this spring, including two from UM.

“They’ve all done well. I’m proud of them,” she said.

The book conveys that “we’re tenacious,” Allie said. “We love this place. We love the beauty of it and we love the people. And we’re living here because we want to.”

 

 

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