Bringing Brightness to Salem Hills

Bringing Brightness to Salem Hills Photo

With little April showers on their shoulders, Pequenakonck Elementary School’s kindergarten classes happily visited their intergenerational friends at Salem Hills Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Purdys. This sojourn marks the sixth consecutive year of this get-together to share kindness, communication, literacy, music and smiles. This trip is part of the school’s unique, ongoing ONE CUB Kindness Initiative, founded by paraprofessionals Lisa Finer and Britt Togonon in 2008.

The young learners entered the arts and crafts room with a book in one hand ready to read to their senior partners and a handmade tissue paper flower in the other to present as a gift. The friends conversed and colored together as they enjoyed each other’s company. The trip concluded with a sing-along including old standard tunes and a patriotic song. You can’t help but get goosebumps listening to voices harmonizing whose owners are separated by 80 to 100 years!

This unique friendship is ongoing throughout the year. Kindergartners made “Thank you” stars in November for veteran residents at the facility. In December, all four classes arrived with presents for every senior friend to celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah. ONE CUB expanded beyond the kindergarten walls as all grades at PQ participated to write personal cards and letters, make gifts and stationery and collect water bottles to recycle. All recycling money collected was used to purchase a gift for each of the 130 residents. PQ families, faculty and staff donated new items to be gifted – a true collaborative team effort.

In February, Chris Bockis, the activities director of Salem Hills, visited kindergarten classrooms along with her assistant, Victoria, dressed in costume to celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss. Salem Hills gifted the kindergarten with a Dr. Seuss book as well as a very special game designed by the seniors for their young friends. The year culminates with this April visit – a heartwarming experience for all!

ONE CUB is a constant team effort – thanks go to paraprofessionals Claudia Badia, Denise Coursen and Carole Galligan, as well as the kindergarten teaching team, for their ongoing help and support.

The mission of ONE CUB is to empower our students with the knowledge that they can make a difference in our world through kindness, citizenship, problem solving, communication and celebrating the differences in us all. ONE CUB contributes to forming the foundation of these building blocks and skills that the students will cultivate and refine over their years at PQ, the MS/HS and beyond. A happy heart is an important thing to have - always! It all starts with ONE CUB!