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In the classroom: a bond between students and seniors

Posted at 7:53 AM, Dec 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-15 15:42:06-05

One by one fourth graders from Ackerman Elementary School shuffled into Walnut Grove Retirement Community.  

At first the conversation was basic, but things quickly picked up.  Nothing was off limits. 

“We were just talking about our favorite president.  She likes Trump.  I like Barack Obama,” said fourth grader Jennifer Gittings.

And yes, age was discussed.

“I’m 72 and I’m 92,” said two residents. 

“I think it is important for our young people to get to know our seniors and for our seniors to get to know our young people,” said Lifestyle director Kim Spicer.

The mingling once a month for an hour between seniors and Ackerman students is made possible through Project PAYBAC.  It's a partnership that links schools with community businesses to provide diverse learning opportunities.

“They're so interesting and have no fear and they just talk and it is really good,” said resident Nancy Hill.

“I don't know who enjoys it more, the kids or the residents here,” said David Schreur.

Lifestyle Director Kim Spicer says this is a favorite activity for her residents.

“The kids learn just as much from the residents as the residents learn from the kids,” said Spicer.

Teacher Ann Butterbugh says it is a learning opportunity no textbook can teach. 

“They can tell them how things started and then the kids can figure out how things are today,” said Butterbugh.

It’s tough to say good-bye to new friends, but they will meet again come spring.