Balmville Students Pair with Elant at Newburgh Residents to Research, Write, Choreograph Play

Performance highlights trends of each decade since 1910

Newburgh, N.Y. (May 25, 2011) – Sixth-grade students learned history first-hand from residents of Elant at Newburgh and used that knowledge to write and choreograph a play that was performed for the residents as the culmination of a year-long research project.

Students from Ms. Jayne Mangieri’s class from Balmville Elementary School, Newburgh, had been paired up with the residents and met with them once a month since September to learn about the life and times during the decades from the 1910s up to the 2000s. On Wednesday, May 18, they performed “Those Were The Days” for 50 Elant at Newburgh residents with songs, skits and costumes from each of the decades. The students will have a public performance at 6:30 p.m., June 9 at Balmville Elementary.

“The residents felt that they had a part in the students’ education,” said Heidi Williams, Director of Recreation at Elant at Newburgh. “They felt that they had something to give back to the young people with teaching the students about how times have changed. The residents also developed a grandparent relationship with the students, teaching and encouraging them and being proud of their progress and accomplishments over the course of the year.”

In the inter-generational program, the children interviewed the residents to learn about their lives and times including the dress, dances and music of the past decades. The program has been incorporated into the academic curriculum of the Balmville Elementary School as a creative means for the children to learn about American history through the elderly who lived in those times. The year-end course project includes the writing and production of the play. This year, both the students and a few residents performed in the play.

“This program is a wonderful experience for the students and residents,” Mangieri said. “The residents always talk about what we give to them but they give so much to us as well. They have become family to our students and the bond is amazing!”

This intergenerational program has been a success for both the students and the elderly residents. The sharing of knowledge and experiences between the old and young has developed understanding and friendships between the generations. The children enjoyed both the new friendships they have made and the interactive approach to their history lessons. The seniors enjoyed the social interaction with the students and learned about what life is like as a kid living in the year 2011.