McDuffie County students should get a better understanding of their role in society and the importance of caring for others as the school system becomes more involved with Thomson Manor Nursing Home.
School board members voted to "adopt" the nursing home at the regular December meeting, citing the importance of teaching life lessons and the need to care for those individuals who spent their lives tending to others and contributing to society.
"It's going to be a phenomenal program. Both sides will benefit and come out for the better," said Beverly Boyer, director of Thomson Manor.
The interaction between the groups will help students understand the natural process of growing older while offering a chance for them to gain some understanding of the past.
"They will be able to talk with the residents and get some insight into history," Ms. Boyer said.
The school system plans to participate in events every month, said Jim Franklin, assistant superintendent for administrative services.
"The whole effort is to get students to see their roles in taking care of individuals who have been leaders and producers of our society as they grow older, getting to the December of their years," Dr. Franklin said.
There will be opportunities for children of all ages whose parents give permission for them to interact with residents of the nursing home.
Older students may have more chances for direct interaction, such as the middle schoolers who recently visited and brightened the home with mini-Christmas trees for every room. The students, on their own initiative, also brought warm gifts for the residents like gloves and scarves. Students said they were glad to have the chance to visit the home and bring smiles to the residents' faces.
Interacting with residents at Thomson Manor "gives students a deeper appreciation for people of all ages," said Pam Rhea, assistant principal at Thomson Middle School.
"To me, the best part of it is kids understand what it means to reach out to others. The kids feel good about themselves," she added.
There will also be chances for the younger students to participate as well, Dr. Franklin said. Younger students have already been involved with the home before the "adoption" by the school board, participating in events like writing cards to the residents.
Other ideas discussed at the school board meeting were singing groups, a letter writing program, and designing posters.
"No matter the age, children need to understand there is a role for them to assist those individuals. Every kid in some large way or small way can become involved," Dr. Franklin said.
While brightening the day of residents, students will also be rounding out their education. Courses such as civics, social studies, sociology, psychology and vocational education can be incorporated in the program.
"I can also see this being taught as part of reading," he said.
The program offers many educational opportunities for children, but it also lets them experience an important role in society.
"It's taking care of people who have taken care of us," Dr. Franklin said.