(12/22/14) Inter-generational activities enrich the soul but also expand awareness, elevate the metacognitive quality of empathy, and provide learning experiences back and forth across generations.
Elders share important lessons and events from the past, while youth receive exciting new discoveries reminding us all of the simpler joys and excitement during life’s early years.
These are some of examples of what motivates the programs promoted by Stars Intergen, Inc., a non-profit organization which collaborates with the RCS School District.
Ella Wetterhahn, also known at Stella, lives in Albany and is a 93-year-old veteran who served as an Army Nurse in the European Theater during WWII. She has been the subject of two Albany Times Union articles over the years, one in which she was interviewed with former RCS teacher, the late Harold Becker (High School Business Teacher), about her experiences in World War II in which she served her country with conviction and bravery.
Stars Intergen, Inc. focuses many of its activities within the RCS District but is active throughout Albany County. When Stars board members learned that Stella had not made it on the November 2014 trip to Washington, DC to see the WWII Memorial, a program sponsored by another non-profit, Leatherstocking Honor Flights (free transportation and tour of the monument for the last few WWII vets), it was seen as a perfect opportunity for RCS students to communicate their admiration for her service and simultaneously brighten her holidays.
Middle School pupils who go to Van Allen’s Senior Residence as part of a Stars Intergen initiative heard Stella’s story which director, Linda Bruno, read to them. Their senior citizen friends at Van Allen’s and they learned how to craft handmade cards with the expert guidance of retired RCS worker, Sally Downes. These carried messages of thanks and well wishes for Christmas to Miss Wetterhahn who lives on her own with no local family.
High School Social Studies Department teachers Adam Sutton and Jenn Patnode provided their students with copies of Times Union reporter Tim O’Brien’s 2008 interview with Stella which dealt with her service as a nurse during the Second World War. The report described how the opportunity to serve her country allowed Stella a chance for civic participation in national life as well as personal growth.
The students' 51 cards and letters were recently presented to Miss Wetterhahn at Crisan’s Romanian Bakery, an Albany café in Stella’s Center Square neighborhood in Albany.
As much as 80 years separate the recipient of these student messages and the RCS young people who created them with opportunities provided to them by Stars Intergen, Inc., the RCS School district, and volunteers which include local senior citizens, former faculty members, former school board members, and a former RCS district superintendent, William Schwartz, the founder and president of Stars Intergen, Inc.
Check out a few photos below of the visit below. Click on the images on this page to enlarge them.