Connecting the generations
Elementary school students forge relationships with local elderly residents
Basehor Elementary School third, fourth and fifth graders shared songs, conversations and hugs Friday with their community buddies at Hickory Villa and Pebblebrook retirement communities for their last visit before the end of the school year.
The Community Buddies program began three years ago in an effort to meet one of the school district's top priorities to improve communication in the community. Third grade students are assigned a resident from either Hickory Villa or Pebblebrook and come to the communities once a month to talk and play games with their buddies. Each visit also includes a performance by the students, which coincides with what they are learning in their social studies and science classes.
Third-grade teachers Amy Garver and Suzette Downing started the program with funding from an Education Foundation Grant.
It was intended to be a one year program, however Garver said the program became so popular that it continued after the first year.
"The students really bonded with the buddies," Garver said. "The third grade classes just don't want to give it up."
Even though the grant only financed the program the first year, calendars with a collage of pictures from community buddy visits throughout the year are given to the residents and sold to parents to help continue to fund the program.
While the program is specifically for third graders, the fourth and fifth graders were asked to visit the communities Friday to have a reunion with their original community buddy they had when they were in third grade.
The fifth grade choir sang songs with an American theme, which they are studying in social studies. Students Zac Hevel and Davi Morrison were featured rappers in one song while Jamie Lynn, Jonathan Snell and Taylor Riley were soloists during "America The Beautiful." Before the students sang "America The Beautiful," student Tanner Garver asked veterans and those married or related to a veteran to stand and be recognized.
After the performance, fourth and fifth graders greeted their former community buddies. Residents enjoyed seeing how much the students had grown and both students and residents enjoyed the reunion. Garver said the residents and students not only love the visits, but it also helps them build necessary social skills.
"I think it is a wonderful program," she said. "They bonded together more than we ever dreamt they would. It's a lot more work for the teachers, but we feel that education is so much more than reading and writing. This program teaches life skills."