PHS CmPS team focusing on  Appalachian heritage, culture

The Paintsville High School CmPS team recently undertook a project called “Pronounced Appalachia,” aimed at helping spread awareness of a mountain culture that team member Matt Tackett says has enriched his life and is “slowly dying.” Pictured are, from left, Hallie Coleman, Taylor Stumbo, Matt Tackett, Maddie Webb, Lucy Jones, Hannah Ousley and Coach Dawn McNew. Not pictured are Bryce Allen, Rebecca Blair and Eve Lewandoski.

The Paintsville High School Community Problem Solving team has its yearly project underway, this time focusing on the “silent problem” of a disappearing Appalachian culture, according to PHS student Matt Tackett. The program is adopting the name “Pronounced Appalachia.”

“There is a silent problem facing Eastern Kentucky, and that is that young adults and children do not learn about the culture of Appalachia and it is slowly dying,” Tackett said. “So, our project is about reviving the culture by having exhibition fairs, making cultural enrichment videos that can be shared with our communities and writing articles about cultural things.”

Tackett said the team was seeking locations to host further exhibition fairs, needing locations for two more fairs, and according to CmPS coach Dawn McNew, the team traveled to the state Capitol in Frankfort Wednesday to present their project to lawmakers as part of the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative’s Education Days.

Tackett said spending time with his grandparents as he grew up led him to have an appreciation for the heritage of farming and what he said is a disappearing Appalachian culture.

“One thing I’ve noticed is that the way I was brought up is much different than how most people around here are brought up, in that I always spent a lot more time with my grandparents than most people do, because my mom, she’s a teacher and she always worked at another school system … and my parents couldn’t afford, at the time, daycare and stuff, so they would just take us to our grandparents,” Tackett said. “So, by the time I was four years old, I was collecting eggs from chickens, I was seeing hogs getting killed and turned into pork, I was watching my grandma can stuff, I helped make apple butter, and then my other grandparents, my grandfather was in a mountain music band and he would always come play at my school and do stuff like that, and then the square dancing and all that stuff.

“So, I just feel like my life was enriched with that culture and I kind of just want to share that with more kids so they get that experience as well,” Tackett said.

The project isn’t just for locals spreading the region’s culture though, according to fellow CmPS team member Lucy Jones, who said being a part of the project as someone who was raised in an urban area has given her a unique insight into Appalachian traditions and culture.

“Me, personally, I’m the opposite end of that spectrum, where I was completely raised in the city,” Jones said. “We’ve always just been city people, so I never got to experience going out to milk the cows … I never really got to experience mowing the lawn, anything like that, I was just completely secluded in the house and I was homeschooled on top of that, so I feel like this, for me, is more like a learning experience for me to get to know Appalachia through this project.”

The team is currently searching for a forum for its Johnson County exhibition fair, and asks that anyone who might be willing to provide a venue contact them through social media at, on Facebook, @pronouncedappalachia on Instagram, or to contact McNew by phone at, (606) 789-2656. For those interested in the team’s efforts, more information can be found on social media. To contact the team by email, send inquiries to,

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