Gifted and Talented Service to Old Settlers

Old Settlers project picture

The Voice photo by Terri Johnson

From Left back: Kaleb Fife, Trey Widmier, Terran Dunn, Justin Wilson (Standing), along with (in front) Jenni Coats, Macie Merrill, and Brecken Goff go through old newspapers looking for information about old settlers.






For The Voice

RUPERT – Two generations of people in Minidoka County many years removed from each other connected earlier in October with the culmination of a historical, educational, service project by 25 Gifted and Talented students for the county’s Old Settlers group.

“We were asked by Gary Shorzman to do this as a service,” explained Shanan Aston who directs the Gifted and Talented (GAT)program in the Minidoka County Schools.

  “This was an opportunity for them (GAT students) to share their abilities and to give service. They were more than willing to do it.”

Aston explained that the Old Settlers group wanted the students to highlight one or more of the original settlers who came to Minidoka County in the early 1900’s who still lived in the area.  In reviewing who some of those early settlers were, the students chose to focus the project on Tess Malan who came to the Rupert area as a child with her parents, attended Rupert schools, received a teaching certificate from Albion Normal School, taught in the Minidoka County schools for many years and raised her family here.  Malan remains a resident of Rupert today.

“These were middle school students,” explained Aston further.

“They are 6th graders and 7th graders now and one who has gone on to Minico.”

The now Minico student, Jordan Larsen put all of the work of the group together into a video, filming, editing and producing the final product that was presented in early October at the Old Settlers meeting. Malan and her peers saw her life in review through the eyes of the students who had researched the many aspects of her history.

“I was pleased with the work the students had done,” said Malan.

  “I quite enjoyed it.”

The students, too, enjoyed and learned from the project.  Aston explained that the students who were fifth graders in the spring interviewed Malan to find out some points of interest in her life.  The then 6th graders researched the historical background of those points and created a dramatization for the video.

“I had never thought of how Rupert was established,” said Brecken Goff who researched information about the Malan family.

“It is important to know how Rupert was founded and how businesses have changed,” said Justin Wilson.

“This project taught us about our ancestors and how they got here (to Rupert) and how they got what they have,” commented Kaleb Fife. 

“I thought it was interesting that Rupert was the main train stop back then. It was an important place,” said Macie Merrill.

  “Now it is just a little town.  It still had The Square in the early 1900’s, too.”

“I couldn’t believe that there was actually a concentration camp here,” said Terran Dunn.”

An interesting anecdote from Malan’s life that the entire group remembered was discovered by Derek Vega who researched Malan’s early years as a school girl in Rupert.

“She was always late for class,” Vega reported, “because she heard about kidnappings back east and she was afraid her little sister would be kidnapped so she always walked her sister to class first.”

“I was surprised how cheap it was to go to college at Albion Normal School,” said Trey Widmier.

“It was interesting to find out about her (Malan) as a teacher,” said Jenni Coats, “And how teaching has changed over the years.”

“We always want the students to learn to do research,” said Aston. 

“This was a way for them to produce an authentic project with a real person and present it in the real world.  I believe it was a valuable experience for everyone.”

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