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Family History Comes Alive For Darien Students In Lifetime Learners Course

"Genealogy & Computers" students who participated in Moving Up ceremonies in Norwalk. Photo Credit: Bernie Weiss Photos
Darien, Rowayton students: Rita Phillips: Rowayton, Carol Wilder-Tamme: Darien, Sara Zagrodzsky: Darien Volunteer Assistant, Jennifer Carrter: Darien, Katy Rahe: Rowayton Photo Credit: Bernie Weiss Photos

NORWALK, Conn. — A total of 20 students in the "Genealogy & Computers" class took part in Moving Up ceremonies recently in recognition of the eight weeks of study they undertook at the nonprofit Lifetime Learners Institute at Norwalk Community College.

The students received certificates from the chair of the Curriculum Committee of the Lifetime Learners Institute, Richard Di Vecchio, and the facilitator for the classes, Janeen Bjork.

Beginner students were introduced to the fundamentals of genealogy through classroom instruction and homework while also improving their computer knowledge and ability. The Intermediate students received six weeks of training in advanced newspaper research techniques.

Students searching newspaper archives were surprised and delighted to find everything from human interest pieces and family recipes to stories on the foreclosure of a family homestead.

“I have always been interested in my family's genealogy, knowing that some ancestors came over on the Mayflower and others were in Germany," Katy Rahe of Rowayton said. "So when I saw that Lifetime Learners was offering Beginning Genealogy at Norwalk Community College, I jumped at the opportunity. LLI facilitator Janeen Bjork's genealogy expertise, sharing of tools and resource links and her never-ending enthusiasm for genealogy, is inspiring"

A student in the Intermediate Class, Carol Wilder-Tamme of Darien said, “The that Janeen made available was a treasure trove! I was able to solve the mystery of a possible first wife and son to my husband's grandfather from 1895 newspaper announcements."

Bjork, a Greenwich resident and television researcher, says she was impressed with her students.

"Students in both classes were introduced to a plethora of resources and methodology in a very short period of time," she said. "It was gratifying to see and hear the finds the students were making between classes when they employed those resources and techniques."

The two levels of "Genealogy and Computers," and 40 other one-day two-hour courses, will resume in September. For information or to receive a course catalog, call 203-857-3330 or see

The students included: Jennifer Carter and Carol Wilder-Tamme of Darien; Michael Allocca, James Bouchard, Joan Milliken and Lauren Yaremo of New Canaan; Lynn Atkinson, Ann Bello, Patricia Castellano, Ann Marie Hoehler, Karen Iaco, Judy McCann, Susan O’Neill, Pamela Strohm-Gordon, Bev Viele and Carolyn Wakeman of Norwalk; Jean Jacobson of East Norwalk; Rita Phillips and Katy Rahe of Rowayton; Arlene Clanny, Leslie Loop, Jean Ward and Dan Williams of Stamford; Michael Schary of Trumbull and Bruce Gaylord of Westport.

Darien resident Sara Zagrodzsky assisted with computer instruction for the Beginner students.

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