Generations brought together by power of poetry and prose Seniors and teens share writings for TV program

April 24, 1996|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,SUN STAFF

Through poetry and prose, the generations moved a little closer yesterday in Baltimore County.

Senior citizens from the Renaissance Institute (Institute for Learning in Retirement) at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland and several county high school students shared their writings before video cameras.

The show, prepared for the county's education channel, Comcast 36, was the culmination of months of writing sessions at Carver Center for Arts and Technology in Towson.

And the project, designed to bridge the generation gap, worked well, said Carver sophomore Rebecca Shlapack, 16.

"A textbook doesn't make an impact," she said. "When you hear about tuberculosis and world wars from older people, you are able to relate better with it."

"Family," the half-hour show taped yesterday, will be aired throughout the week of July 15. A show taped earlier, "Word Bridges," will be shown during the first week in July.

"I just thought it was a marvelous way to show the young and not-so-young together," said producer Corwell "Betty" Walter, the education channel's coordinator of student talent.

The teens and seniors agree.

"They are wonderful youths," said Renaissance student Georgia Beyard, 66, of Timonium. "It is amazing the talent they show and how they seem to enjoy us."

"I found it was a really neat experience. There are a lot of similarities between us," said John Fowler, 18, a Carver student who read a poem about his father.

For instance, they all were hesitant about being on TV. "I'm very nervous," said Renaissance student Hilda Sukman, who mustered enough courage to reminisce about the sled she never had.

The taping began with a distinctly youthful moment. The cameras were rolling and the countdown was on: three two whoops!

Taping suddenly stopped, as the director realized one of the students had a purplish mark, almost assuredly a hickey, on the neck. No matter. The director touched up the brazen little bruise with makeup, and the show continued.

Many of the Renaissance students' topics included war, death and childhood memories that have shaped their lives. They've learned to express these experiences in a class Ms. Walter teaches at Notre Dame called "Writing Memory Pictures."

Through the course, Ms. Beyard has found a niche as a poet, she said. "A little poem I can shape. I can control that."

She credits her new-found avocation to Ms. Walter. "Betty is an inspiration," the retired disability claims examiner said. "She encourages me. Otherwise, I'd still be home baking cookies and weeding the yard."

Ms. Walter said she started the Renaissance class two years ago for herself as well as her students. "I wanted to give my grandchildren a sense of who I was," said the former Towson High School teacher. "I call it my musings."

Pub Date: 4/24/96

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