What can an 18-year-old track star and a 99-year-old lady have in common?
For Amber Johnson, a senior at Bayfield High School, getting to know Grace Emenegger was a chance to learn about a different era of America, when people attended Chautauqua entertainment gatherings, listened to the radio in the living room and took buses to get to college.
She, in turn, showed Emenegger all of the information available on her smart phone, where she looked up Chautauquas to learn more about them.
Johnson is part of a leadership class at Bayfield High School, where students visited residents at Evenings Porch Assisted Living once a week to get to know more about each other's generations.
"Our kids go to see what it was like growing up, while the senior citizens can see what kids are up to today," said Annie Hurlbut, the facility's activities director.
"There are some really neat relationships they've had," noted teacher Dianne Milner. May 11 was the last class visit to Evenings Porch, and students had an assignment to write a letter thanking their senior mentors for their time.
Emenegger grew up in Des Moines, Iowa and attended Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri. After graduation, she returned home to Des Moines and worked for an insurance company. Someone at the college called her a while later and asked if she'd want to come work there, and at first, she thought it was a joke. She learned it wasn't, then returned to her alma mater and took the job.
Emenegger said visits from the students were the highlight of the week for many residents, and Johnson said that turned a classroom assignment into a real honor while still providing an opportunity to learn from a different generation.