High School FCS Program Reaches out to Senior Citizens

Article excerpt

Cedar Crest High School

LEBANON * PA

Bridging the Gap: Intergenerational Appreciation is an educational partnership between community residents and high school family and consumer sciences (FCS) students in the Cornwall-Lebanon School District in Lebanon, PA. The program provides 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students opportunities to be actively involved with the older generation within the school district. Two community events, a Santa's Workshop for residents in a retirement community, and a Senior Senior Prom that celebrates nostalgic times in the lives of our elders, are planned and implemented by the students as authentic performance assessments in a course titled Family and Consumer Science.

The course is a graduation requirement that focuses on the Pennsylvania family and consumer sciences state standards (www.pafcs.org/pafcsnationalstandards.htm#PA). In the classroom, students study process skills of communication, problem solving, leadership, resource management, the aging process, housing, and families across the life span. From involvement in this project students learn about the rich heritage of the past, resources in the community for families as roles and responsibilities change, and lifestyle changes related to financial and resource management. The residents and guests experience the wonderful, positive qualities of the youth. It is a heart-warming experience for both generations.

The two events bring students and the elderly together for a learning experience that far exceeds classroom instruction. The intergenerational component brings to life every aspect of living across the life span. Interested students in all of the other FCS courses together with interested parents, family members, and alumni also volunteer to be a part of the annual events. There is always a specific community partnership activity available for students, regardless of which semester they are enrolled in.

Bridging the Gap: Intergenerational Appreciation community events address the following objectives: student leadership; development and implementation of skills in interpersonal relationships, communication, problem solving, organization, management, reflection, and assessment; creation of a nurturing partnership between the school and community; and understanding and appreciating life and the aging process. It also introduces career development and opportunities, community partnership for the senior graduation project requirement, and the importance of volunteering.

This project inspires future personal and professional career directions and contributes to the senior graduation project. Individual student assignments are created that include developing a budget; writing proposals and giving presentations seeking financial support; meeting with community leaders to learn about the needs of the retirement community residents; collaborating with other departments within the high school such as Visual Communications in using technology to design programs, invitations and table favors; coordinating with the marketing department at the retirement community to present a tour and information sessions to the students, ordering supplies, securing services, and finalizing expectations for menus, dancing music, and newspaper releases; and working with the school district personnel.

Students work after school or at home on their respective assignments. On a Saturday morning prior to the workshop, students begin the festive holiday decorating. This preliminary decorating sets the stage for Santa's Workshop. At all times, students are working around the residents' schedule. Santa's Workshop is a day-long event that extends beyond the regular school day allowing the Workshop to be shared with three separate groups of residents. All of the hours accumulated for Santa's Workshop are part of the retirement home's volunteer funding reports.

The Senior Senior Prom decorating begins immediately after the school day with the dining room and entry hallway, and students get dressed in their formal attire, all within a 2-hour time period. …