Skip Menu

Craft Academy students conduct service-learning project at Hazel Green Academy

Seniors from the Craft Academy for Excellence in Science and Mathematics are spearheading a project to revitalize a historic school campus in Hazel Green, Kentucky.  

Craft Academy seniors Blake Orr of Stanton, Jane Zhang of Richmond, Logan Smith of Hindman, Oni Terrado of Elizabethtown, and Wade McGuire of Hindman make up the project leadership team. Hazel Green Academy (HGA) was founded in 1880. Students studied and lived on campus, similar to the Craft Academy. At its peak, the academy was fully accredited by the Kentucky Board of Education and focused on science and mathematics, offering elective classes such as music and Bible studies. The academy closed in 1983.  

Only a few of the academy’s buildings remain functional with only one in use, the Jot ‘Em Down (JED) consignment shop which serves the local community. The students have planned a two-phase project to renovate the JED and utilize the remainder of the buildings as a community entertainment venue and educational outreach center.  

Craft Academy QEP Director Rachel Rogers is from Hazel Green and is intimately familiar with the HGA. She approached McGuire and Smith with the idea of utilizing HGA’s crumbling campus as part of a special project. The students have also been working under the mentorship of Dr. Thomas Kiffmeyer, associate professor of history, due to his expertise in Appalachian history and volunteerism to assure the success of the project. McGuire and Smith asked the other members of the leadership team to get involved.  

Work on the project has already begun. On Oct. 3, the leadership team led a service-learning opportunity with a group of approximately 50 of their fellow Craft Academy students to work on rejuvenating the consignment store. Students removed everything from the store, cleaned the entire building and sorted through donations accumulated during the pandemic. The HGA Leadership Team made a second trip to HGA on Nov. 14 to finish organizing the store to provide volunteer opportunities to other Craft students and revitalize the area.  

“Logan and I saw this as an opportunity for all of Eastern Kentucky and what could be a large-scale volunteer effort to bring opportunity and economic development to central Appalachia,” McGuire said. “Many of the students at the Craft Academy come from outside Eastern Kentucky and may not understand the customs of Appalachia or may hold views of the people consistent with the stereotypical moonshiner with soot on his face, no shoes, and no teeth. Our project is helping the break down those cultural barriers while developing the world around us.”  

The Craft Academy leadership team has big plans for the HGA. They plan to restore all of the remaining buildings to provide a daycare facility, a community garden, a wellness center, performance spaces, venues for artisans and classroom space.   

The team recently met with Brad Thomas of East Kentucky Power to discuss getting resources for the project. They also met with the Hazel Green Christian Church board, which owns the HGA campus, to discuss plans and get permission to use the Hazel Green Academy branding for promotion and social media.  

The Craft Academy for Excellence in Science and Mathematics is a dual-credit academy for academically exceptional Kentucky students. Craft Academy provides students with a postsecondary residential experience to complete their junior and senior years of high school by enrolling in college courses. The Craft Academy's purpose is to meet the unique educational needs of academically gifted and talented high school juniors and seniors in the Commonwealth. The academic rigor of the Craft Academy challenges students to excel at their highest level through project-based STEM+X courses and hands-on learning experiences, with emphasis on innovation, design and creativity, and civic and regional engagement.   

To learn more, visit, email or call 606-783-2093.  
Photo Captions:

Hazel Green 1: Craft Academy students sorted through items donated to the Jot ‘Em Down Consignment store at the site of the Hazel Green Academy.  

Hazel Green 2: More than 50 students form the Craft Academy traveled to Hazel Green to work on a service learning project to restore the campus of the former Hazel Green Academy to better serve the community.  

Hazel Green 3: left to right: Blake Orr and Oni Terrado, Craft Academy seniors and members of the Hazel Green Academy Project Leadership Team, have already visited the site twice to begin the work of restoring it to serve the community.