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Firwood students, neighbors bond over pancakes

Retirement community residents visit new friends at Firwood school


After making connections during field trip visits in December, students at Firwood Elementary school invited more than 20 residents of the Avamere at Sandy and Cascadia Village assisted living homes to a pancake breakfast on Wednesday, Jan. 13.

Prior to the holiday, the fifth-grade classes of Kaari Gardner and Susan Baysinger visited two of Sandy’s retirement communities to volunteer and learn about service.CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Fifth-grade student Mason Rolofson visits with an Avamere at Sandy resident over pancakes.

“We wanted to donate our time and give back,” Gardner said. “The kids really enjoyed their time there. We knew we wanted to continue our friendship and invite them back to Firwood for an outing.”

On Wednesday, the school hosted residents from both communities for a pancake breakfast. All the students donated either food or cooking equipment for the morning and volunteered their time to make pancakes for their visitors.

Students who weren’t helping to prepare food offered to get a drink and breakfast plate for the visitors.

“One of my favorite parts was one of the mother volunteers would ask the students their resident’s name when they came up to make them a plate or get coffee, and if they didn't know it, she would ask the student to go find out and return, calling them by name,” explained Gardner. “It was a great lesson in respect.”

After breakfast, students engaged residents in conversation and games of Yahtzee.

Although the morning was not without its snags, Gardner felt it went well overall. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - On Wednesday, Jan. 13, Firwood students welcomed residents of Avamere at Sandy and Cascadia Village for a pancake breakfast.

“Organizing 60 students to set up an event has a ‘controlled chaos’ feel to it,” she noted.

Although multiple griddles created some power problems, parent volunteers were able to fix the problems and keep the event moving smoothly.

“The students were very excited when they saw a resident they had spent time with in December arrive at the school," Gardner said. "I think the kids felt special and like the connection they had made really meant something to both of them.”

When asked what her students have gotten out of the ongoing visits with community members, Gardner explained it is the relationships they have built that are important.

“We started a very brief relationship in December and were able to further our connections during our breakfast,” she said. “Now that we have visited them, (and) they have visited us, we hope to meet up in the spring for a picnic on common ground.”


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