Cataline elementary students and their buddies at the Seniors Village wrapped up their fourth annual intergenerational project last week with farewell speeches, and refreshments.
As part of the intergenerational project students in grades 4 to 7 take their morning classes at the Seniors Village for four weeks in the fall and three weeks in the spring.
Students learn their regular curriculum, volunteer for a variety of services and spend one-on-one time with a senior buddy.
Sometimes seniors also come into their classroom to share a song, poem, card trick or give a mini-lesson on topics such as magnetism or a history lesson.
The crib tournament the students played in this term was yet to wrap up as the seniors had beaten all but one of the students in the games.
In the afternoon the students head back to their regular classrooms at Cataline where they write in their journals what they have learned about and from, their senior buddies. Both sides seem to enjoy the interaction.
Last year Mary James says she was able to play games with the students but this year her eyesight has deteriorated to the point where she is legally blind so she very much appreciates the students’ help to play card games.
“It’s a wonderful program,” James says. “I can’t see. I couldn’t play games without the students. They add and subtract for me.”
Jessie Voth says she has had four buddies over the years and loves them all.
“I think it’s a wonderful program for the children and for us,” Voth says. “When they are young and active it is good for the kids to see the other end of life which is not so bad and they keep us young. They put life into the building.”
In speaking to the students Voth offered a word of advice: “Save your money now and prepare for old age.”
Senior Verna Dennis, who has two buddies this year, says: “I’ve had such a happy time hanging out with the students, sharing with them and learning about all their problems. I really, really enjoy it.”
Dennis’s buddy Dillon Alberts, Grade 6 says: “We talk and hang out and have a good time”
Dillon says they also garden together. “We get lots of education from Verna and stories about her past and have a really good time.”
Dennis’s other buddy, Jerica Parker, Grade 5 adds: “We play lots of card games, one called Dwayne’s Game. There’s one like it called Sevens. I just like hanging out with Verna.”
Over the years, senior Jean Yablonski says she has had six student buddies and has loved every one of them.
Yablonski says her first buddy recently came back to visit her.
“Children are our most valuable asset and it has been a pleasure to have the program here,” Yablonski says.
Yablonski’s buddy Reese Rivet, Grade 6, adds: “I think it is a lot of fun, really cool.”
In praising his senior buddy Isaac Lauren, Grade 6, says: “You are like a grandma to me now. I will be coming back to visit for sure … One more thing Donna, I love your stories.”
Lauren’s buddy, Donna Schoonover, was thrilled with his comments.
“I am a grandmother for the first time,” Donna says. “I am a great aunt and soon to be a great-great aunt but I’ve never been a grandmother.”
Teacher Stephen Dickens says the students may sound redundant in their praise and thank-yous but in marking their journals over the years he is amazed how much the students learn from their visits with their senior buddies.
“The students truly have grown because of their visits with you. There is lots more going on in their heads than you may realize.”