Dasher pupils spread cheer to seniors


December 23, 2003|By Dana Klosner-Wehner | Dana Klosner-Wehner,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

AT DASHER Green-Owen Brown School, members of the Tri-M Music Honor Society spread good cheer by holding a party for senior citizens Dec. 12.

Twenty-five sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders prepared for the big event for six weeks, said Belinda King, the school's band director. Children made decorations, baked cookies, painted ornaments, rehearsed music and organized for the occasion.

On the day of the party, about 40 members of the school band joined honor society band members and presented a concert for the seniors in the school cafeteria.

More than 50 senior center clients throughout Howard County participated. They came from Longwood Senior Center, Elkridge Senior Center, Western Howard County Senior Center Plus and Owen Brown Senior Center Plus.

Some of the seniors danced. Others rocked to the music in their wheelchairs.

The music included contemporary and traditional holiday favorites.

Guests danced while the band played a medley of songs that included "The Circle of Life" from The Lion King and Bette Midler's "From a Distance." After that, the seniors sang along to "Jingle Bell Rock" and "Let It Snow."

Then pupils wearing blue cummerbunds and bow ties escorted them into a "cabaret" in the gym, where tables were decorated with tablecloths and glistening centerpieces, which were made of paper plates wrapped in metallic paper and decorated with bows.

The jazz band and quartets provided entertainment while guests enjoyed homemade cookies and a catered lunch, served by Tri-M pupils.

"Activities like this are wonderful for seniors," said Vivi Provine, director of Owen Brown Senior Center Plus. "It brings back memories of when they were younger and going to school dances, or raising their own children. It makes them feel young and energetic."

"This is all so nice," said Mary Spangenberg, a guest from the Western Howard County Senior Center Plus. "I'm really surprised at how talented the kids are."

"It's very nice that the children and teen-agers are serving the older people," said Luoda Ling, a guest from Longwood Senior Center. "They are building up good habits."

It was an opportunity for the young and elderly to feel valued, Provine said.

"For the kids it makes them appreciate the older generation. When they see people in their 90s still dancing and having fun, they realize there are things they can still do when they are older," she said.

"It's really cool that we get to entertain the seniors," said eighth-grader Bethany Miner. "My grandparents don't live nearby, so this is a great way to connect with older people."

"The seniors seem very happy. They were dancing and smiling and clapping when we were playing," said eighth-grader Emily Howse. "That reaction makes everyone happy. I hope Tri-M keeps doing things like this."

"When a child runs over and gives someone a hug, the smiles on both faces are just beautiful," Provine added.

King plans to make the holiday party an annual event. This is the second time Tri-M has held a party for the seniors. Unfortunately, last year's party was canceled because of snow.

"This year, all the senior centers in the county were invited," King said. "Next year, we want to extend the invitation to all senior citizens in the community."

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