Park View students bring fun and games to senior center

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On Friday, May 19, members of the Park View Middle School Grade 8 Patriots, took over the activities room at the Cranston Senior Center and brought many smiles and lots of laughs to the seniors.

According to Ann Marie Torres, eighth-grade social studies teacher, “We have done a variety of projects all year. We chose to go in May because it's Older Americans Month and the theme this year is ‘age out loud,’” she said.

Students who attended the trip were Kalyse Brown, Adrianna Bucci, Xavier Cherry, Grace Cordeiro, Juliana Craige, Arabella Crenca, Chriselly Cuardrado, Princella Darius, Aidan DelSignore, Kendra Dionizio, Jennifer Dominguez, Georgi-Ann Edwards, Ava Esposito, Hanaah Faria-Meade, Mina Goncalves Chandler, Camden Haid, Allan Kevorkian, Breanna M Lemoine, Abrianna Medina, Lauren C. Milani, Nicholas P. Nani, Eric M. Perez, Angelina Phol, Maura K. Potter, Clemma Prince, Jersey Quinonez, Piper Rasmussen, Nicholas Rodriguez, Creslin E. Sena, Sophie F. Smith, JaminRae D. Tentoco, Anthony O. Thompson, Matthew Winn, Carter S. Wolf and Jianna Zambarano.

Students played games with the seniors including pool, cards, Jenga, Yahtzee and Connect 4. There was painting, origami and dreamcatchers as part of the crafts. Students also offered Zumba lessons and a mini book club.

“The overall experience was awesome and it far surpassed my expectations. The students ate lunch intermingled at the tables with seniors and the conversations were awesome! One group even sang to the kids and asked them to come back and visit. It took a little bit of time for everyone to get comfortable but after that all good. [Patriots team English teacher] Mrs. Marro and I have worked planning this for a while, Students were the ones that planned what they were going to do with the seniors and they brought in whatever supplies were needed,” said Torres.

Ann Tanzi, the coordinator of volunteers for the activity center, was impressed with what she saw.

“I have never seen so much activity in here,” she said admiring all the interaction between the students and seniors.

Tanzi’s assistant Denise Gefuso said how nice it was to see good kids doing something worthwhile, and helping out in the process.

Students Jianna Zambarano and Princella Darius thought it was important for members of their generation to spend time with the seniors.

“I like hearing their points of view on how kids act today,” said Darius.

When they returned to school later in the day, the students were asked to reflect on the morning.  “When my class went to the Cranston Senior Center, it was an exceptional experience,” Georgi-Ann Edwards said. “The group that I was in during the day was a card group, and we met a woman named Betty. Betty was such a kind woman who was so sweet to all of us. We went to the Senior Center to play and teach the elderly card games, but the tables turned when Betty asked us if she could teach us a game called golf. Betty taught us some other games, and then in return we taught her garbage and 21 blackjack. At the end because she was such a wonderful women and we appreciated her company, we gave her a basket that contained little gifts like a blanket, hard candies, and even a couple of decks of cards. Also, there was a couple at the lunch table who asked me about my shirt which is my softball jersey, and their granddaughter plays for the same league, it made me see that it really is a small world after all. My overall experience was fantastic and I would definitely go to spend the day there again.”

Carter Wolf was impressed with the stories the seniors had to share.

“I had a fun time in the morning playing cards, but the part that left me shocked was when we went to lunch,” Wolf said. “I sat next an elderly man who was in his eighties and as I started talking I realized that he was a veteran. He told me that he was in the Korean War and that was cool enough, but when he started to tell the full story, I was captivated. He explained that he was part of the battle for the Chosin Reservoir when he and about 50 other men were captured by the Chinese. By this point I was listening to his every word. He told us how he was being held when he and some of his friends had decided to escape.

“A snowstorm came and in the middle of it, the snuck out and headed towards the gate. There were two men in the way and he and his friends killed them and started walking. It took them two days in freezing temperature to get to the American camp. He had been recounting this story in a nonchalant tone, and it amazed me that he could be this calm while telling such a shocking story. It really showed me how different my generation is from his generation, where they were hardly fazed as it seemed by this. Kids in our generation would be much more scarred by these events, and even I was disturbed by this story. All in all, my day at the senior center was much more influential to me than anything that I could learn in school.”

Jennifer Dominguez expressed gratitude to being able to be part of the project.

“I had an unforgettable experience with some of the seniors. We played Jenga, painted some roses and had lunch together. Throughout the experience, I noticed how grateful and thankful they were to have us visiting. We also shared some stories about our past and our family. Park View contributes to our community as much as possible, I’m very proud of our school and our ability to take action in events like these. It's important to contribute to our community in a positive way. Out of all the activities and projects, spending time with the seniors has been one of the best experiences I have been a part of,” she said.

Senior Center attendee Brad Southworth enjoyed being with the students.

“I don’t understand a lot of what they say, he chuckled, but they took the time to teach me a few games and we talked about sports. It was nice to see young faces here, and I hope other schools will come as well,” he said.

Park View Principal Mike Crudale stopped by to see how the day was going.

“As principal I had the opportunity to stop by and see our students interacting with many wonderful seniors on a community service field trip at the Cranston Senior Center. I have never been prouder to see how our students brought so many smiles to the faces of the seniors there. The students played games, did arts and crafts and even danced the Macarena. They also had the opportunity to enjoy lunch together. As I always say, school is so much more than academics. I feel our Park View students truly get to experience how important community service is to everyone in our community,” he said.

Torres said the program was such an overwhelming success, that she is planning to make it a yearly event.

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