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SCCC program uncovers history

On Wednesday, Oct. 15, Joe Zarzynski's students found themselves immersed in history when the teacher simulated a shipwreck in a course he teaches called Shipwreck Archeology for Non-Divers.

Not only were students learning how to do an archeological survey, they were also learning a little bit about the history of Schenectady, especially how it relates to Albany and Lake George. The course is part of the Community Archeology Program, or CAP, at Schenectady County Community College, which allows students 16 and older to explore careers or interests in archeology.

They have a pretty active archaeology program there, said Zarzynski of the CAP program at SCCC.

He said Louise Basa and Ronald Kingsley, SCCC faculty members involved in the CAP program, decided in 1997 to put together a certification element to the courses that would prepare students for Schenectady area archeology.

"Almost any time in that Old Stockade area where they're putting a shovel in the ground or doing construction, there's the potential of finding [something] that's historic or pre-historic," said Zarzynksi, citing the Dutch and American Indian history of the area.

CAP offers two non-credit certificate programs. Students may choose to take individual courses or complete one or both non-credit certificate programs.

"What we have is a program for community people who would become part of a volunteer team to address uncovering history through archeology in the regional area and through our courses," said Kingsley. "We address topics that will not only educate the public but at the same time identify information -- the unwritten history of the regional area."

He said the program encourages involvement of the young and not so young.

"We kind of do a two-fold operation in terms of the people that are in the program," said Kinsley. "[They are] people in high school through senior citizens. There are a lot of people who have said, 'I wish I had done this as a career.' This is as a way to engage people on a local level."

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