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Jordan Ridge students bring music, games, fun to Carrington Court residents

Oct 05, 2017 10:04AM ● Published by Julie Slama

Jordan Ridge Elementary students sing the national anthem during their 2016 Veterans Day program for Carrington Court assisted living center’s residents. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

Last year, Chelsi Tolbert received an email her principal forwarded to the Jordan Ridge faculty from Carrington Court Activities Director Diane Kunz. The email welcomed students to come share activities with the senior residents.

Tolbert, who was then a teacher intern, had third-graders make Valentines and she dropped them with the seniors.

“I wanted them to deliver them and have more interaction than that,” she said. “So when I was hired to teach fourth grade, I wrote her and asked how my class can be more involved.”

The two met and brainstormed ideas for Tolbert’s class to come on a regular basis this year. Already, they played a get-to-know-you game with rolling dice, where they shared favorite hobbies, food, summer memories and more.

“The students learned how to begin with a handshake, introducing themselves and speaking loudly,” Tolbert said. “Then, they practiced taking the lead in an activity. It’s a service and an opportunity to make a connection that is such a valuable experience for my students.” 

Tolbert said that after this first visit this fall, students already were excited about returning.

“They wrote in their journals how at first they were nervous but also how they overcame it,” she said. “They became active listeners and made connections. The students were talking about creating a talent show for them, and that’s what I liked. They want to be involved, take the initiative and ownership of their activities. That goes back to our school that promotes leadership.” 

Kunz said she invites students from other schools, youth groups, Girl Scout troops and others to interact with the residents as well.

“I try to create things that help them have happy days, and any people, especially children, who sing, read a favorite book, talk about family history, play games with them, it’s like a magic potion,” she said. “It gives them memories. The residents love kids. They just want to hug them.”

She said last year, Hawthorn Academy students made art projects that were displayed and became group pen pals with student classes.

However, many student visitors were from Jordan Ridge. Last year, Jordan Ridge’s younger students performed a grandparents’ program while fifth-graders shared a patriotic program, honoring those who served in the military, for Veterans Day. During the holiday season, sixth-graders presented a variety show.

“They had beautiful singing and their faces were full of expression,” Kunz said. “The children are the residents’ happy place. They give a smile, and it comes right back.”

Fifth-grade teacher Annette Stewart said that this year’s Veterans Day program will be shared with residents Nov. 9.

“Fifth-grade makes it a point to perform a patriotic program each year that not only teaches history but also promotes a feeling of gratitude and patriotism,” she said. “As we visit Carrington Court, our students are reminded that these sweet people are not only people they may have connections with but are reminded of their grandparents, great-grandparents or even neighbors who still have so much to give.”

Stewart wants students to realize they are impacting others and show how they appreciated.

“We would love to have the students walk away wanting to do more and think about how they can make a difference,” she said. 

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