The Bear Class Pays a Visit to St. Anne’s
On Wednesday, January 30, we had a special visit from the “Bear Class”. Twenty-nine third graders from St. Thomas the Apostle School came with their teacher, Barbara Anderson, who also happens to be the Association Jeanne Jugan coordinator for our Home. They were accompanied by nine parent volunteers. Their principal, Ms. Judith Borelli, also came to St. Anne’s Home to watch the presentation the students prepared.
The Residents were delighted as they told us the story, The Selfish Giant, by Oscar Wilde. The story tells of how the heart of the giant is forever changed by the kindness of a small child. We learn later in the story that the child is Jesus, and at the end of his life, the giant is invited by the child to come and live in Paradise. The students shared the pictures they had created to illustrate the story as well.
They also sang several songs for us before we all moved upstairs to go to Mass at 11 a.m. The students fully participated at Mass by doing the readings, bringing up the offertory gifts, leading the prayers of the faithful, and helping to sing at Mass.
From there our Residents on the Sacred Heart unit went to the dining room for Rhythm music. The students were invited too. The Residents love the music because everyone gets a maraca or tambourine to help keep the beat. Everyone enjoys participating and some even get up and dance! The students joined right in with the music making and dancing. Both Residents and students seem to especially enjoy the famous Chicken Dance, which tickled the fancy of all who participated and those who were present to watch.
When that ended, the Bear Class gave out candy bars and the cards they had made for each of the Residents. They personally delivered and read them or explained them to the Residents. Some students stood by as the Resident read them out loud. The Residents were very touched and enjoyed the interaction with the kids. One said that it made her feel young again. For another it brought back memories of when she taught school. For others, it reminded them of when their own children were that age.
Before they left the dining room, the third graders once again got together, and with guidance from Mrs. Anderson, sang a few more songs for the Residents before heading over to the next dining room.
The students and parents then enjoyed a short tour of the St. Anne’s Home. It gave them a greater appreciation for the reason why St. Thomas the Apostle School chooses to collaborate with the Sisters’ mission to care for the Residents, with a food collection for Thanksgiving, and a toiletries collection for Christmas. The visit put a face on the ‘friends’ they have been sending holiday greeting cards to throughout the year.
The third graders were very good with the Residents…listening to them and sharing their stories with them as well. The students had a marvelous time learning about the favorite sports, colors, movies, or activities that the Residents enjoyed when they were eight or nine years old. It was a wonderful morning for all! We hope this tradition will continue as the Bear Class makes a point of visiting us at least twice a year. This time seemed to be the best of all. The Sisters and Residents also appreciate so much the thank you letters with pictures they receive from the Bear Class after their visit. They are always a joy to receive and to hear the reflections from the students themselves of what their visit meant to them. It meant a lot to the Sisters too and especially to the Residents. We hope that the Bear Class and St. Anne’s will always remain connected!
By Barbara Anderson, AJJ