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Fairfield Senior Citizens Going Back To School For Day Of Friendship

Members of the Bigelow Center for Senior Activities and kindergarteners for Osborn Hill Elementary School listen to the school's fifth-grade chorus. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness
The fifth-grade chorus at Osborn Hill Elementary School entertains members of the Bigelow Center for Senior Activities in Fairfield. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness
Several members of the Bigelow Center for Senior Activities came to Osborn Hill School Tuesday for a Day of Friendship. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness

FAIRFIELD, Conn. — You’d think the annual Day of Friendship between Fairfield senior citizens and students at Osborn Hill Elementary School would be a pretty routine outing.

But the conversations across the generations can be downright shocking, according to Julene von Glinski, a member of the Bigelow Center for Senior Activities.

“Last year I was asked what kind of video games did I play,” said von Glinski, laughing. “I said we didn’t have video games when I was little. And they said, ‘What did you do?’ and I said, ‘We played outside!’”

On Tuesday, the children at Osborn Hill invited senior center members for a hearty breakfast, a concert by the fifth-grade chorus and informal conversations with a third-grade class, which will put together a booklet of their interviews.

“It’s the whole idea that we work with the kids on empathy,” said Frank Arnone, principal of the K-5 school. “This is something our children wanted to do.”

In May, the school holds a penny drive to secure a bus so the fifth-graders, who study immigration, can travel to the senior center to talk to members about their families’ experiences. Then the class goes to Ellis Island on a field trip.

Bigelow Center member Pat Swanson was happy to hear about that. She was PTA president when her children, now 60 and 57, attended Osborn Hill.

“As I was president, I put that through,” she said of annual field trips. “I was very proud of that.”

Bob Kellerman said he thinks the partnership between the school and the center benefits everyone, but it’s especially enlightening for the children.

“It’s probably hard for them to realize that when they get old this is the way they will hope people will treat them,” he said.  

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