Storied Lives: Mother Seton Students Make a Connection to the Elderly Through Writing

Mother Seton Students participated in the Storied Lives program with local senior citizens. Credits: Mother Seton
Students read the stories of their seniors to the audience at the closing ceremony of the program. Credits: Mother Seton
Credits: Mother Seton
Credits: Mother Seton
Credits: Mother Seton
Credits: Mother Seton

CLARK, NJ - Since 2014, Mother Seton Regional High School students have been participating in Storied Lives, a program which enables imaginative and service-minded high school students to pay tribute to the elderly by writing stories about their lives.  The program was originally founded by a father and daughter, Tariq and Zeenie Sharif, in 2012 in Morristown, NJ.  The Sharifs’ goal was to create a unique program which would enable generations to connect through the process of interviewing and writing about the lives of senior citizens.

The program consists of an Opening Ceremony, where the girls are introduced to, and interview, a senior from their community.  They then arrange future dates to meet again for further discussions.  Through these meetings, the students get to know the interviewees and hopefully discover interesting facts and derive inspiration from their life stories. 

Once the students obtain enough information, they write a story, poem or essay honoring that individual’s life.  The story, poem or essay is presented to the senior, often in the presence of their families  during the Closing Ceremony, which tends to evoke an emotional response from all involved. 

Sign Up for E-News

In 2014, then Mother Seton junior Alyssa Ziobro was interested in forming a Storied Lives program at the school.  She approached Mrs. Natalie Rotolo, one of the school’s English teachers, who willingly volunteered to become its Program Supervisor.  Under the guidance of Tariq and Zeenie, Alyssa and Mrs. Rotolo partnered with Sunrise of Westfield, a senior living facility located in Westfield, NJ. 

In addition to helping launch the program, Alyssa served as that year’s Program Leader and created and developed the Storied Lives website.  Every year, a new program leader is chosen and serves as the liaison between the students participating in the program and Sunrise.  The program leader is responsible for ensuring that the girls’ stories are submitted on time and the interviews run smoothly. 

The program has been a resounding success due to the support of Miss Joan Barron, Principal at Mother Seton, and Alyssa’s mother, Kristina Ziobro.  Mrs. Ziobro has not only been part of the program since its inception, but also established the relationship between Mother Seton and Sunrise. 

Although Alyssa has graduated and is currently attending the Maryland Institute of Art, both she and her mother have continued to be extremely supportive of the program and still make every effort to attend the Opening and Closing ceremonies. 

“The Mother Seton community will forever be indebted to them for introducing such a wonderful and rewarding program to the school.  It bridges the gap between the young and the old, and allows the girls to learn about history from a person who lived it,” said Rotolo. 


TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Roselle/Roselle Park

Wastewater Sewerage Authority Looking for Treatment Plant Operator

March 12, 2018

LINDEN/ROSELLE, NJ - The Linden/Roselle Sewerage Authority is seeking to fill a position for a Wastewater Sewerage Treatment Plant Operator.  

This is a full-time position that entails shift work, 7 days a week. Candidate must have a High School diploma or obtained equivalency; possession of a valid S-1 New Jersey Wastewater Operators License is preferred but not ...

Teacher Training at Trailside

MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ  - Teacher Training programs at Trailside will be offered this spring for teachers of students in Kindergarten through grade twelve starting March 15.

Project WET, a teacher training program for teachers K – 12 will be offered on Thurs. March 15 from 9 a.m.. to 3 p.m.  This workshop will provide the necessary tools, resources, and lessons for teachers ...

Daylight Savings Time Begins this Weekend - Remember to Turn Your Clocks Forward

ROSELLE/ROSELLE PARK, NJ - The winter months are about to come to an end. You know spring is definitely around the corner when Daylight Savings Time begins. A reminder to everyone to turn your clocks forward one hour tonight when you go to bed. Daylight Savings time officially begins at 2 a.m. Sunday morning. 

While many will dread losing that hour of sleep, that extra hour of daylight ...

Roselle Park to Hold Third Annual St. Patrick’s Day Event

ROSELLE PARK, NJ - The Borough of Roselle Park will hold their third annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration on Sat., March 17 from 12 p.m. to 3 the Casano Community Center.

Starting at noon, Joe Carosalli’s Masterpiece Orchestra will perform authentic Irish music. Lunch will be served and will consist of corned beef and cabbage, boiled potatoes, carrots, Irish soda bread, and ...

Mountain Biking in Watchung Reservation Revisited at Freeholders Meeting

March 9, 2018

ELIZABETH, NJ - Mountain biking in Watchung Reservation was revisited in the public comment session at the Union County Freeholders meeting on Thursday.  The board had voted not to approve building bike trails in May 2017 after a months-long debate.

Jamie Meiselman of Westfield, and co-leader of the Union County Chapter of the Jersey Off Road Bicycling Association (JORBA), raised the ...

Totowa Rapper Accused of Trying to Bring Loaded Gun Through Security at Newark Airport

March 12, 2018

NEWARK, N.J. – Rapper Juelz Santana, a resident of Totowa, faces weapon charges after allegedly trying to get a loaded firearm through security at Newark Liberty International Airport, according to U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito.

The rapper, whose real name is LaRon L. James, 36, surrendered to police this morning. He has been charged with  one count of possession of a firearm by a ...

Union County 4-H Club Reaches Out to Help after Hurricane Maria

March 16, 2018

Student members of the Union County 4-H Variety Club reached across local and state borders to help displaced pets earlier this year. Through their “4-H for our 4 Pawed Friends” community service project, they collected donations to help St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison after the organization sheltered more than 700 pets in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

A ...

Still Searching - A Follow Up on the Boxer Found in Roselle

March 5, 2018

ROSELLE, NJ - The search continues for the owners of a female boxer found on East 7th Ave. near Chandler Ave. and given to Roselle police on Feb. 16. The dog was transported to the Newark Humane Society and was put on hold for the owner to claim. 

The hold time has expired and the dog has not been claimed. She was transferred to the Montclair Animal Shelter and will be fostered in ...

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (Random House, 1965)


In Cold Blood is, quite simply, the grand-daddy of true crime writing, dubbed by Capote, himself, as the first non-fiction novel (although Norman Mailer argued the point when he published The Executioner's Song in 1979.) The conditions under which I read In Cold Blood for the first time were pretty weird, which was another ...

Ian Hockley Visits New Jersey to Introduce Program to Empower Youth

This week I am taking a departure from book reviewing to share an important program that has been introduced to New Jersey this week by Mr. Ian Hockley, founder of the Dylan's Wings of Change Foundation. On December 14, 2012, Hockley's five year old son, an autistic child named Dylan, was gunned down in his classroom in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Dylan, a shy and adorable ...