Clemente students’ alternative history text gets published

826michigan project now available

From 826michigan staff

High school history classes often study the nations and civilizations of our past. Over the last year, students at Ann Arbor’s Roberto Clemente Development Center have been taking a good look at their own futures.

Clemente alternative history book
Roberto Clemente teacher Terry Carpenter with his students last fall as they began work on their alternative history book.

The students’ written predictions and reflections have been collected in the book “2020: Visions of the (Near) Future.” The professionally-bound volume published by 826michigan and printed at Dexter’s Thomson-Shore, is the result of a year-long residency with the local writing, publishing and tutoring nonprofit’s staff and volunteers.

The project began in September 2010 as an alternative history “textbook” in which students would describe imagined departures from the historical record. Read about the project here: (826michigan picks Ann Arbor as centerpiece project for 2nd year.)

Clemente teacher Terry Carpenter invited 826michigan staff and volunteers into his classroom to help encourage his students to express themselves creatively and engage with history.

“I told the students ‘if you know and understand the past, you will have more power to determine your future ,” said Carpenter. Rather than purely examining the past, the Clemente students wrote narratives and scenes from their own future as well.

826michigan Americorps Member Katie Jones explains: “students who struggled to speculate on alternative histories had little trouble creating futures for themselves. A course like Terry’s is designed to equip students with an understanding of how the present day came to be and how to channel that understanding into changing the world.”

To celebrate the release, 826michigan distributed free copies of the book to its authors and threw a party in their honor. Copies of the hardcover book were handed out during the special book release party. Students read excerpts from their favorite pieces and reflected on the transformational process. “They made me feel a lot better about my writing. I’m not scared to write anymore,” said one.

Clemente Principal Ben Edmondson congratulated the students on their recent accomplishment and the progress they have made this year. “If you believe in yourself you can create something like this. It’s been a tremendous year, I couldn’t be more proud and I’m excited to read these stories,” he added.

“2020: Visions of the (Near) Future” is available for sale at Liberty Street Robot Supply and Repair on 115 East Liberty St. in downtown Ann Arbor. Proceeds support free student programming, including in-school writing residencies, at 826michigan. Details: (734) 761-3463 or visit

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