Macon County Chronicle

MCHS Students Join Vanderbilt in 'Twist of Fate' Project

Macon County High School seniors Jerika Shrum, Cassy Adcock and Holly Doss have teamed up with Vanderbilt University graduate students Jill Robinson, Jule Phenis and Ashley Byars for project ‘Twist of Fate,’ a publication covering the progress of three communities devastated by the February 5th tornado. 

Scheduled for release near the one-year anniversary of the tornado’s destruction, the free publication will include stories, interviews and photos that document the healing and recovery of each community and its residents.

Currently involved in the photography portion of the project, Shrum, Adock and Doss have been assigned to capture photos focusing on three main subjects; ‘Introducing the Community,’ ‘Identifying the Strength of the Community,’ and ‘Aftermath & Rebuilding.’

Using a type of photography called ‘Photovoice,’ where a photographer tells a story through pictures, the girls are currently photographing tornado-stricken areas in Macon County that are under construction or have been rebuilt.

In the weeks to come, the three seniors will be interviewing tornado victims with a focus on community recovery.

Each Tennessee community involved in the project (Lafayette, Gallatin and Franklin) is represented by a newspaper that will publish the free publication for its readers. The Macon County Chronicle will be publishing and distributing ‘Twist of Fate’ upon its completion.

The project, which has been funded by a donation from the Center for National Studies, is being directed by Vanderbilt University Professor Sharon Shields, who appointed the graduate students now leading each group of high school students.

“To have some of the young people of this community contributing to this project is very important,” said Macon County project leader Jill Robinson. “They have a fresh perspective, an enthusiasm, a connection to their community and something that we, as outsiders, couldn’t contribute in the same way.”

For Shrum, Adcock and Doss, the experience thus far, has taught them each some extremely valuable lessons.

"What’s been the best part for me so far is seeing how the people in our community have bounced back from this tragedy,” said Adcock. “It’s been so hard for some people but somehow they’ve found the strength to bounce back anyway. It’s been nice to see the amount of healing that’s taken place.”

For Doss, the project has served as a lesson in prioritizing.

“Being involved in this has really shown me that stuff is just stuff,” she said. “Things can be replaced, but people can’t. Hearing peoples’ stories and seeing the good things people have done for each other is so uplifting.”

More times than one, Shrum said she has been inspired during her involvement with the project.

"It’s really inspiring to see people who have lived through a nightmare like this, keep going,” she remarked. “And even more inspiring is that they’ve never lost their faith despite what’s happened to them.”

For more information on ‘Twist of Fate’, contact the Chronicle at 688-6397.