Students and seniors team up for history project

Photo by Amy Cherry – St. Marys Area High School students, local residents and volunteers from the Historical Society of St. Marys and Benzinger Township recently teamed up for a project documenting early life in St. Marys as told by local residents.Photo by Amy Cherry – Ellen Olson, a volunteer at the Historical Society of St. Marys and Benzinger Township, presents gifts to the SMAHS students who participated in a recent project involving interviewing local residents about early life in St. Marys. The video footage will be archived at the historical society.
Amy Cherry
Staff Writer

The Historical Society of St. Marys and Benzinger Township recently teamed up with St. Marys Area High School for a project documenting life in St. Marys as told by some of the city’s eldest residents.
The project, spearheaded by Marcia Bleggi and Ellen Olson, volunteers at the historical society, had been in the works for about a month before it was completed in April.
Seniors enrolled in the English and news writing reporting class taught by Kristen Lorenzo conducted the interviews which were filmed by those in a media class instructed by Ann Defilippi.
Lorenzo said this is the first time her class has participated in this type of project and would continue doing so again if requested.
While the project was a class endeavor, Lorenzo said it was more of a volunteer project for them.
All of the information obtained from the project will be archived at the historical society.
“We thought this would be a good experience for the students,” Bleggi said.
As part of the project, a two-person student team interviewed each subject about what life was like in St. Marys when they were growing up and how much it has changed since then.
According to Bleggi, the historical society two years ago conducted similar interviews with different residents.
“At that time we met with people in their homes. We never did them (interviews) in a group,” she explained.
Bleggi said if the historical society can gather another group of residents for the project they are hoping to continue it next year.
The organization has a list of 20 people interested in participating. All of them reside in local nursing homes therefore it would require those conducting the interviews to do so on-site.
“Others are more comfortable if we go to their homes,” Bleggi said.
Many of the participants were nervous about going to the high school for the project, however most of them felt more comfortable once they were informed who their fellow participants were in the project.
Bleggi said some of them went to school and graduated together while most of them are connected to one another somehow.