History Students Keep Relations Strong With Elderly

Daughters of Israel Retirement Home in West Orange is once again the site of the West Orange High School Intergenerational Program for the 2016-2017 school year.


Students in Doug Drabik’s ninth grade honors world history class met their senior citizen partners in late October and quickly established relationship with each other.


“Students will work throughout the year in partnership with a senior citizen and develop projects sharing their stories,” said Steve Olshalsky, supervisor of Social Studies in the West Orange school district. “There will be a culminating event in June in which students will share their joint oral history projects entitled “HIStory, HERstory: Gaining a Deeper Understanding of History Using Personal Accounts.”

The program is sponsored by the Jewish Historical Society of New Jersey.


Aida Malagold is a 95-year-old senior resident at Daughters of Israel who will be participating in the oral history program for her fifth year. The program is now in its seventh year. In 2012 she met former WOHS students Zack Ames and Rebeka Pedo. The connection was so strong that the students “visited me virtually every week and we discuss many different topics, including personal experiences and concerns in an open and judgment-free manner. The single program that has meant the most to me during my time at DOI is the intergenerational oral history program,” she said.


Not only did the newfound friends talk about current events, the students had to opportunity to learn about the past through the lens of Aida’s storied life as a woman born in the 1920’s who not only lived in New York City and China but worked until she was 75 years old.


Malagold keeps in touch with Ames and Pedo who visited her before their prom, and their graduation and have called her from their prospective colleges to say hello.


“The program is going great,” said Drabik.


“The students and senior citizens had their second visit on Dec. 16 and the kids are excited about giving their senior partners holiday cards they made for them,” he said. “Everyone is looking forward to the next visit, and the program continues to be a great success.”

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