By Nancy Nelson
Every year one fourth grade class of students from Roosevelt Elementary in Cherokee take part in a year-long project that ties learning and community service together. Pat Friedrichson, the fourth grade teacher who has taken the project over for the retired Karen Thompsen has many good things to say about the project.
It starts at the beginning of the school year when students in her class are given an 'adopted grandparent' from the Cherokee Villa Nursing Home located across the street from the school. Then one day each month the students go to the nursing home to visit and do activities with their 'grandparent'.
Part of the project for the students is to learn as much as they can about their grandparent and write an essay about them. This not only teaches them writing skills, it also promotes communication between the generations and the students learn a little about history first hand. "The program provides a way for children to appreciate older people and people with disabilities," says Friedrichson.
Some of the students have discovered that some of the residents are friends or are people who know a relative of theirs. It is fun to see how comfortable the students and residents are with each other. Neither has a preconceived notion about the other and quickly become friends as they learn from each other. Both the 'grandparents' and students gain much more than they intend from the project because they form bonds with each other.
The residents and students always look forward to the next visit because they do something different on each visit. For example, in December they sang Christmas songs and strung popcorn and in January the students interviewed their 'grandparent' for their essays. They have also played cards, bingo and this week the students brought their favorite game to share with their 'grandparent'. In May they will wrap up the year with a hotdog cookout.
See photos on page 14.