Advertisement

Reservoir student connects with seniors through dance

During a performance last month by Reservoir High School dance students at the North Laurel Community Center, some members of the crowd were saying to each other, "I used to be able to do that," in between their applause for each segment.

The students from Reservoir weren't performing in front of their high school peers. Instead, nearly 40 Reservoir students staged a 30-minute preview of their spring show for seniors with the North Laurel 50+ Center.

Advertisement

The performance, initiated by Reservoir senior Morgan Strehl, featured contemporary, jazz, and modern music in the routines, which delighted the nearly 70 people in attendance, including seniors and young children from an area daycare center.

"To have them see me in this light, planning something for them, and being able to show them what I do every day, it was great," said Strehl, 18, who has interned with the 50+ Center since September.

Center Director Trisha Olsen lauded Strehl's commitment to involve her friends from Reservoir in her work with the seniors.

For Strehl, the program was a way to bring generations together.

"You can be 4 and enjoy dancing, and you can be 104 and enjoy dancing," she said.

As an intern, Strehl has visited the senior center nearly every day to work with program staff and seniors.

"I absolutely love it," she said. "It's probably the best part of any day I have."

Staff members at the senior center say Strehl "puts her heart into what she does" and was a key part of the center's intergenerational programming.

"She just loves them [seniors], and they love her," said Nancy Wisner, president of the North Laurel Senior Council. "It's that connection that she has working with them, you don't see that in kids 18 years old."

The 50+ Center holds performances at least once a month for its seniors programs, but never something this large, according to Michelle Feng, assistant director of the center.

"Of all the folks I've worked with, [Morgan]'s really on top of it," Feng said. "She's got a bright future."

Taking their show on the road is not something that's typically done by the Reservoir dancers, said Keedra Brown, head of the school's dance department.

"It was a great idea of Morgan's," Brown said. "She was definitely the bridge that brought the dance program and the senior center together."

Janine Kucik, a gifted and talented resource teacher at Reservoir, added that the school hopes this is the beginning of more connections between Reservoir and the senior center.

Advertisement

The North Laurel 50+ Center, located within the North Laurel Community Center, offers programs and activities for those older than 50. The Senior Center Plus program is a four-hour-a-day program for seniors with dementia or mobility issues.

The Senior Council, associated with both programs, serves as an advisory group, plays a leadership role and represents the center in the community.

Strehl's work at the senior center started during her sophomore year.

She was looking for ways to volunteer and decided she "wanted more grandparents."

After her first visit, when one of the seniors reminisced about her first date, Strehl realized she was where she belonged.

"I got chills, and I still get chills when I tell that story," she said.

In the fall, Strehl will be attending the University of South Florida, majoring in gerontology -- the study of aging.

But that doesn't mean her "new grandparents" won't be hearing from her.

"I'm going to miss those relationships. I'll be coming back over the summer to visit and I'll be sending videos while I'm off at college showing them my dorm, my roommate and my sorority," she said. "I very much hope to stay a part of what's going on here."

Advertisement
Advertisement