Greatest generation, meet next generation

Classrooms at Glenmont Elementary adopt 'grandparents' from Delmar Place

Students at Gelnmont Elementary School are forging connections with the past, and not through the pages of a history book.

Since last year, the school has welcomed residents of Delmar Place, an assisted-living community, into its classrooms to come speak to and interact with students. The program of adopting grandparents for classes, which Glenmont Principal Laura Heffernan described as an unqualified success, has benefits for all participants.

"It's a great chance for the senior citizens in the community to connect with the young people," Heffernan said. "They learn from each other. ... The children get a history lesson, in a way."

Delmar Place residents first came to the school during Glenmont Elementary's Building Community Through Dance program last year. Seniors were invited in to talk with students about their own experiences with dance and what the trends were back in their day. The visit was such a success the school decided to invite Delmar Place back, and before long, the grandparents program was born.

Now, about once a month, about 10 seniors visit the school to sit down with classes K through 5. Though they try to visit the same classrooms, sometimes seniors have to skip a trip and kids get to interact with someone new. They spend an hour with the children playing games, doing activities or just talking.

Sometimes it's the grandparents who learn about what's new with kids. One class was showing their grandparent how to use GPS, for example.

"I'd rather listen to them talk than talk to them," said Delmar Place resident Bob Irving, who was playing a game of UNO with kindergarteners in Jody Keese's classroom. "When I'm happiest is when they are happy."

Though the visits only last for half an hour, it's something the students look forward to, said Keese. Between visits, the classes correspond with their grandparents through letters and cards. This year, some classes had each student make a card, and then they bound them into a holiday greeting book.

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