As 30 third-graders belted out "Your Mama Wears Army Boots," Virginia Palmer poked her neighbor at the Fairfield Nursing Home.
"Your Mama wears Army boots! She put them on the floor; all the roaches moved next door!" repeated the 82-year-old, chuckling.
When the children came to their last song, in honor of the Crownsville home's 20th anniversary, Palmer again nudged her neighbor. "That's this place! Our 20th anniversary," she said.
The class from South Shore Elementary School in Anne Arundel County brought more than merry songs to the 142 residents of the Crownsville convalescent center. They brought bright faces and smiles, and a jumble of youthful energy, clapping and dancing in a big circle.
"They love it," said Ranae Hunker, activity director at the nursing home. "Children and pets are the two things the seniors respond to most."
The youngsters weren't newcomers to the nursing home. For years, classes from nearby South Shore Elementary have visited the convalescent center on a regular basis.
Every month, several students from the school also visit the senior day-care center associated with the nursing home. The best class citizen and most improved student are chosen for the monthly visit, a procedure that allows every child in the class to try to earn the honor, said principal Elizabeth Kiefer.
The visits seemed a treat to both children and senior citizens. Said third-grader Todd Putnam, "There are lots of people you can cheer up and stuff."
Olive Middleton, who enjoyed a birthday party with the children when she turned 100 in October, welcomed the class into her room at the home.
After singing her a song, the children went to fetch their coats. As they sipped punch in the kitchen, one third-grader explained why it made him happy to visit the home.
"It's like extra grandparents," said Steve Knight. "My grandmother stayed here for a while, and I know the people here like company. We have fun, too."