Wearing jeans, a denim cowboy hat and a red bandanna around his neck, Brett Winkel was as ready as any cowboy to swing his partner through the nearest square dance.
"I've square-danced before, in Mexico when I was 2," said Brett, 8, a second-grader at Fort Garrison Elementary School in Pikesville.
But yesterday, during a dance in the school's auditorium, it's almost certain Brett's partner, Renee Sachs, had more experience than he.
An "over 70"-year-old member of the Pikesville Senior Center, Ms. Sachs was one of 14 seniors who joined Fort Garrison's students yesterday for a square dance as part of the school's yearlong study on intergenerational relationships.
"The reason for the Intergenerational Day was to show the kids that our seniors are productive individuals," said Fifi Kutson, Fort Garrison's guidance counselor and organizer of the program. "I want the children to foster relationships with the community and to have understanding and respect for senior citizens."
Having programs that encourage students to learn from and accept differences in people isn't new to Fort Garrison students. The school has also held yearlong studies on cultural differences and disability awareness. Last year, as part of Disability Awareness Day, students tried playing basketball while in wheelchairs.
"I think it's a great idea. It's wonderful," Ms. Sachs said. "The kids are very receptive. It makes me feel young."
After do-si-doing around the auditorium with Ms. Sachs, young Brett said: "It was just great."
Brett added that the intergenerational program has helped him talk to and get closer to his grandfather, who lives in North Carolina. Older people are "just the same as kids," he said.