Fenton senior center serves as classroom for elementary students

By Jean Johnson | The Flint Journal

December 30, 2009, 6:30AM
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Tomek Eastern Elementary fifth graders decorate Millpond Manor, in Fenton, to get seniors ready for the holidays.

FENTON, Michigan — A senior living facility has become a classroom of sorts for some Fenton elementary students.

Each week a different Tomek Eastern Elementary School class travels to the Millpond Manor senior living facility, 201 E. Elizabeth St., to participate in activities with the residents.

The visits, which began with the fifth-grade class taking turns throughout the month of December, are part of the elementary school’s process in becoming an International Baccalaureate world school, said principal Trevor Alward.

“The focus is that one child can make a difference,” Alward said.

The fifth-graders decorated the senior center with paper chains and posters to get the seniors in the holiday spirit.

Millpond Manager Kari Burt said the students have been a welcomed addition. During the first month, about 15 residents participated in the program, Burt said.

“By the time we got the whole class and the residents in, it was a pretty packed room,” said Burt, who expects to have more seniors participate as the project evolves.

Monthly activities are based on the visiting grade’s curriculum, said Sherri Carter, parent representative for IB Service Learning Project.

“One future program to have the kids and the seniors work together on an economic project and possibly create something to sell,” Burt said. “With the funds raised from the project, they might be able to purchase something for the seniors like a community computer.”

One of Burt’s favorite parts has been watching a question-and-answer session with the residents.

“They ask the burning questions to our residents, like where do they eat,” Burt said.

Fenton High School became an IB world school last year and the district expects the elementaries and middle school to follow in the coming months. If approved for IB status, Fenton School District will be one of the first in the country to achieve district-wide accreditation.