Into the Inferno

Humanities II students finish annual project


photo credit: Maggie Volpi

To hell and back \\ Watching over the Humanities II sixth period student’s project, a life-size depiction of Satan towers over the ninth circle of hell. In Dante’s interpretation of hell, Satan has three heads and is half-way stuck in ice.

writer: Maggie Volpi, Copy Editor

As the clock strikes 5:15 p.m. on Nov. 16, a collective sigh of relief is breathed by the Humanities II students involved in the annual Inferno themed project. After two weeks of tirelessly transforming two empty classrooms into separate immersive walk-throughs of hell for each of the three Humanities II class periods, the sophomores responsible for the project are finally able to put down their paintbrushes and packing tape as the due date arrives.

This project, dubbed “Hell Hole”, occurs every year for the Humanities II sophomores once they finish reading and analyzing Dante Alighieri’s epic poem Inferno, which follows Dante the Pilgrim as he journeys through the nine circles of hell. The project was formerly known as Hell Hall, since it used to entail transforming the whole of the 200s hall; last year was the first time the construction occurred inside of classrooms instead.

“By doing the project in classrooms it gives students more of an opportunity to leave work out and be able to pick up in the middle of something, instead of having to clean up in between every single step,” Mrs. Amy May, the Humanities II teacher and overseer of the project, said. “Plus it provides a little bit more protection for the students’ projects because there’s not constantly people walking through the hallway bumping into things or knocking stuff off, it’s protected inside a classroom.”

Aside from just creating a physical representation of Dante’s hell, students are also required to create their own interpretation of hell using a different ethos. Each Humanities II period had to choose a different theme: first period chose Alice in Wonderland, third period chose Minecraft, and sixth period chose Stranger Things.

“Originally our two ideas we were debating on were Muppets and Minecraft, with the majority voting on Minecraft,” Kiara Duane, one of the Design and Structure team members in Humanities II first period, said. “The next day we found out that third period took Minecraft and because we didn’t have another idea to debate on, everyone who was for Minecraft chose our third runner up: Alice in Wonderland.”

Students involved in the project were assigned various roles in order to ensure the project was completed in time and with high quality work, with the highest level of leadership belonging to the class-elected Project Manager. The other roles were Design and Structure team, Art and Analysis team, and Interactive team.

“Having people do their work without me telling them was the hardest part of my job,” third period Project Manager Kenny White said. “I would tell certain people to do stuff and they would just do something else, so things wouldn’t get done unless I was in the room.”

Aside from the challenge of getting people to commit to their roles on the project, time constraints also posed a major obstacle. Students had two weeks in total to complete their room, from the time the project rubric was given out to the final hours of construction. 

“I think time management is the most challenging part of this project,” Mrs. May said. “Teens are notably bad at time management, and this teaches them in a very real way that they perhaps have some more work to do to become better at it.”

The day after the project was due other classes came to tour the different hells and evaluate them. 

“I like our finished project, I think it’s good,” White said. “If we had an extra week I feel like it would be hugely better but I honestly do like how it came out. I especially appreciate how amazing the art in the Hell Hole turned out.”