Sunset Knoll Activity Coordinator Jackie Anderson announced all the Aurelia students' names to the Sunset Knoll residents. Here, she introduces third grader Jacee Ahnemann. Photo by Dan Whitney.
The Aurelia Community School and Sunset Knoll Retirement Home in Aurelia have had a good working relationship almost since Sunset Knoll opened more than fory years ago. For example, various school groups present music programs and other programs to the Sunset Knoll residents throughout the school year, and the annual Homecoming Parade swings by "the Knoll" each year so the residents, sitting out front, can see the parade "up close and personal."
Last year, several elementary students visited and spent some time with the residents, reading to them and helping them write letters. Activity Coordinator Jackie Anderson felt that the residents really enjoyed that, and Aurelia Elementary Administrator Ann Sandine felt that the students also enjoyed the experience.
With that in mind, they decided to start a new program this fall, called "Grandparents Day," in which Aurelia third, fourth, and fifth grade students come to Sunset Knoll, and are each paired with one of the residents. The first meeting, which was held on October 17th, was seen as a "get acquainted" session. Students were given brief forms by Activity Assistant Jan Mitchell, and instructed to ask the questions on the form to a resident. These were just basic biographical information questions, such as "What is your name?" and "Where were you born?," and residents were encouraged to ask the students the same questions.
Getting to know you
Fifth grader Maclayn Lytle and resident Frances Hasenwinkel get acquainted at the first "Grandparent's Day" October 17th at Sunset Knoll in Aurelia. Photo by Dan Whitney.
The students and their teachers plan to come back on a regular basis, renewing the new relationships they have established. When they return, the students will chat with their "designated resident," and help the resident with any requests they might have, like helping write letters to their family.
Sandine sees this program as helping increase the students' awareness of the needs of the elderly, as well as getting some history lessons "first hand."