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Getting generations together

Senior Stop member Phil Nelson (third from left) sits with a group of New Richmond Middle School students during one of his first Senior Stop lunches with the sixth-graders at the middle school. (Submitted photo)

Over the last few years, the New Richmond Middle School and Community Education have been trying to put together a program to allow older generations to share their knowledge with the students of the New Richmond School District.

“We have had the concept and idea for the program in our heads for a while now, but when we have tried to start it before we have kind of stumbled and it never went any­where,” said New Richmond Middle School Gifted and Talented teacher Jodi Markowski. “The whole idea behind the program is to start com­munication between the generations and give the students an opportunity to learn about the past from people who lived it.”

This year, Markowski and Cheryl Emerson from Community Education were finally able to put together a solid program, called Senior Stop. The new program involves a senior citizen from the community sitting down with a group of sixth-graders during their lunch period every Tuesday to answer questions about how things were when they grew up in the 20th century.

“The kids have asked about a lot of different things; pretty much whatever was on their minds,” said Senior Stop volunteer and STEP member Phil Nelson. “They would ask about what gas prices were like when I was younger and about the prices of a lot of other things when I was growing up.”

From what Markowski has seen, the students seem to be enjoying their time talking with Nelson and saw a lot of students join his table as the lunch period went on.

“The kids have an ear to listen and they seem to be responding well to the talks,” Markowski said. “More and more kids were joining his table during lunch and they all looked like they were having a good time listen­ing to his stories. There were 15-20 students at the table at any one time, so it really seemed like they enjoyed the whole thing.”

During the sixth-grade lunch, a table is set aside for the Senior Stop member to sit at and talk with the students. The students can sit and listen to what Nelson or another sen­ior citizen may be talking about while they eat or can strike up a more in-depth conversation if they wish by asking questions.

“The time went really fast for me, and I love getting to talk with all the kids,” Nelson said. “I hope I made an impression on the kids and that they will remember me and what I told them. I plan to be there on Tuesdays when I can.”

For now, the program will contin­ue to take place exclusively during the sixth-grade lunch, but Markowski is open to expanding Senior Stop to more grades in the coming years.

“We’ve gotten a lot of interest from the STEP workers who work with Community Education, so we may see more people coming in to talk with the kids,” Markowski said. “Cheryl Emerson with Community Ed and I are planning on trying to do more service work with the middle school in the future in addition to the Senior Stop program. And if we get more interest in the program we could also add in more people and go to more than just Tuesdays.”

The program has already added one new face to the Senior Stop table in STEP member Pat Shilts who was scheduled to sit down dur­ing the sixth-graders lunch this last Tuesday, March 25.

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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