BEATRICE, Neb. (AP) — It all started with a shy hello that quickly led to a hug goodbye.
Beatrice Middle School eighth graders and Kensington residents met for the first time Monday to begin a year of the Adopt-A-Grandparent program.
The Beatrice Daily Sun reports (http://bit.ly/19Lk7pb ) that for over 20 years, the program has been grouping one to three students with residents at the Kensington who become their adoptive grandparents for the year.
"They started it as a way to show people that there really wasn't an age gap, that a lot of things that these people share coincide and go right along with what the kids are dealing with today," BMS social studies teacher Mike Policky said. "In some sense things have changed, but in a lot of ways they are very much the same."
Students and grandparents have 20 minutes twice a month during the school year to get to know each other. They share with each other about school and their families. Some grandparents teach games like rummikub or teach the kids lessons in language or social skills.
"They look forward to sharing their legacies, what they have done in life and the things they treasure," Kensington Program Coordinator Trudy Spicer said.
Policky and fellow BMS social studies teacher Ben Essam take the students to visit the grandparents during their study hall period at the end of the day.
Policky said in the years he has been doing it, he has gotten to watch students interact with residents who have lived in three different centuries.
"It is privilege for the kids to be in this program and the relationships they develop over the years," Policky said.
Before the first visit with the grandparents, Spicer meets with students and presents bios of the resident to the students. The students then match themselves with residents whose interests they like.
"Each time they come they just get to be a little more comfortable develop more of a relationship with them," Policky said.
The students learn how to speak with their adoptive grandparents and how to introduce themselves. Essam and Policky also teach the students about death in the case one of the grandparents dies during the school year.
The students are allowed to visit their grandparents outside of school and in the past have continued to visit after the year ends and even invite their grandparents to holidays.
Resident Shirley Workman has been involved in the program for six years and said she has made great connections with the students.
"I think that they need me," Workman said. "I think they need everyone one of us. And they are good kids. They bring the best with them."
Information from: Beatrice Sun, http://www.beatricedailysun.com