5th Grade History Hikers




As part of a West Islip elementary school fifth grade program called History Hikers, Gerek Gardens’ owner and long time West Islip resident, Doug Gerek, recently gave a presentation on the history of West Islip at Westbrook Elementary School. In addition to Mr. Gerek’s presentation, Raymond Bell, owner of the former Bell’s Nursery in West Islip, gave a presentation at Manetuck Elementary School.

The program, created and coordinated by W.I.S.E. Discovery Facilitator Vivian Hollinger, focuses on investigating the history of West Islip through the study and analysis of primary sources. With the support of Carolyn Angenjo, from the West Islip Historical Society, students were given the opportunity to view and analyze historical maps of the community.

These maps showed the changes in the West Islip community over time. Through research, students learned about the first inhabitants and settlers of West Islip, studied census reports and even examined historic gravestones as artifacts during a visit to the Babylon Cemetery. To complete their investigation, students were given the opportunity to hear some oral history and interview long-time members of our community.

“The W.I.S.E. Discovery Program creates the opportunity for authentic learning experiences, such as analyzing historic maps and documents of our town. These activities are in correlation with the 5th grade curriculum and meet the current NYS Standards,” said W.I.S.E. Discovery Facilitator Vivian Hollinger.


At the Babylon Cemetery


Doug Gerek