Folktales, Legends, and Stories


Wilkes University course on The History of Wyoming Valley


The Slovak Heritage Society is one of the organizations that has partnered with Wilkes University to produce a course on local history.  Project History: Northeastern Pennsylvania is a three-credit, interactive graduate Education course designed for teachers who like to integrate local history into their curriculum. Through authentic experiences, teachers will learn about regional heritage and culture. The goals of the Project are: to promote the study of local history in the area's school districts; to instruct teachers in grades three through twelve to integrate local history topics into lesson plans across the curriculum; and to encourage a creative approach to the study of local history, culture, and immigration and to attract student  and community interest. The 2010-2011 fall/spring semester is the first time for this class; it was attended by 12 educators from various local schools.

Our involvement began last fall when Michael Stretanski was asked to join a group of teachers headed by Dr. Diane Polachek of Wilkes University to assemble the Project. The course would meet once a month as a whole with much of the course work done online. The course began with a dinner meeting in September at Wilkes with an overview and calendar for the year. In October, we met at Wyoming Seminary with Mr. Clark Switzer. We toured the battle sites of Wyoming, and had a colonial supper at the Dennison House in Forty Fort. November was devoted to immigration and ethnicity.  Mr. John Dziak 's presented information on the reasons why so many of our ancestors came to Northeastern Pennsylvania.

During the November class, Mary Jean Tarrentini, a member of the Slovak Heritage Society of NEPA, gave an enthusiastic presentation on Father Murgaš and how his many talents and accomplishments lend themselves so well to the teaching of local history. Passionately, she encouraged the educators to persuade their students to learn about their individual family history and the history of this valley. The SHS provided their Father Murgaš Traveling Exhibit, a supper of Slovak dishes, and presented this class with the Murgaš Educational Concept DVD. This DVD includes reading lessons, quiz material, and essential questions. The educators can use this DVD in their classrooms. The lessons are based on the Father's key interests including science, art, history, nature, and religion.

At the beginning of the Nov. class, Christmas mushroom soup (made by Michael Stretanski), goulash (made by Anna Hendershot), and Bryndza cheese and crackers were served. Dishes served after class were; two kinds of holubky, one with rice and one with barley; two kinds of halusky (made with grated potatoes), one with cabbage and one with cheese; four kinds of pirohy - potatoes, cabbage, prune, apricot; two kinds of klobasky, smoked and fresh; creamed cucumbers; and fresh horseradish with red beets. Dessert included rozky with nut and poppyseed (made by Bernadette Yencha) and nut and poppyseed rolls. Michael Stretanski explained all of the foods. One of the educators made a syrec, which is the egg dish blessed in the Easter basket. Peter Kmec, a young Slovak student attending Holy Redeemer High School in Wilkes-Barre, helped make the pirohy using his grandmother's recipe, he rolled out the dough and filled them. SHS board members helped with set-up, serving, and clean-up. See photos below.

Following the Holiday break, in February, Mary Ann Storz had the students present a number of famous and influential personalities from our area and concluded the class with a tour of the Stegmaier Mansion. It is well worth a visit. Dr. Robert Wolensky gave a presentation on mining and the anthracite industry in March. The Visual and Performing Arts were presented in April by Dr. Robert Gardner.

This was a pilot program and will be offered again next year. Everyone is looking forward to our involvement, particularly our hospitality.


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