“Once Upon A Time” Project Takes Oswego Middle School Students On A Journey Through History – Via The Lives of St. Francis Commons Residents



What is it like to Dine with a President’s Wife, or Perform with Ballet Company in the finest theaters in London? For Oswego Middle School students who are a part of “The Once Upon A Time” Life Story project with residents at St. Francis Commons, all you need to do is ask! The intergenerational project gave students the opportunity to interview residents about their life history, where many fascinating experiences emerged. Pictured (left to right) taking part in the project is Harold Ostrow and student Grace Stephens. In the next phase, of the project students will take information gathered back to the Oswego Middle School where they will work with their teachers in areas of both Social Studies and English to compile their “Once Upon A Time” Life Story and present it to residents later. This intergenerational program is funded by a mini-grant through Oswego City-County Youth Bureau.    A new intergenerational initiative between Oswego Middle School students and the residents at St. Francis Commons Assisted Living Residence has resulted in new collaboration, as a “Life Story” project is underway. 
 
By interviewing residents, students in the project heard about many interesting life experiences ranging from the time Helen Yonkers had dinner with Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, to Carl Knight’s story of a 102 – year old apple that has been in his family for generations. Diana Ostrow shared memories of her days with a Ballet company that performed at the finest theaters in London, to name a few.
 
Questions focused on topics ranging from military service, family life, educational background, and economics were among the many aspects of residents’ life students will explore and record.
           
Students will take the information gathered back to the Oswego Middle School where they will work with their teachers in areas of both Social Studies and English to compile their “Once Upon A Time” Life Story.
 
“Seniors in our community, often referred to as the “greatest generation”, have life experiences, lessons, and memories that are often not shared with youth of today, and sometimes even when they are shared, they are not documented in a way that it can be retained for years to come,” said Julie Chetney, Director at St. Francis Commons 
 
Mr. Rory Malone, OMS Social Studies teacher noted, “This project will help preserve history, if even in a small way, through our students here at the Oswego Middle School. Students will have the opportunity to hear and learn first-hand from elders who lived through times of war, the Great Depression, attended a one room school house, or relied on farming to put food on a table for their families.” 
 
To conclude the project, students will present their work to each resident they have written about during a final visit to St. Francis Commons. The visit will include a special luncheon thanking both seniors and students for their participation. 
 
This intergenerational program is funded by a mini-grant through Oswego City-County Youth Bureau.
 
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