By Wendy D’Alessandro
CAROL STREAM, IL (May 17, 2017) – Reading from history books is one thing, but hearing from people who lived through major historical events is another. That’s what students of Wheaton Academy have learned by meeting with residents of Windsor Park Covenant Retirement Community throughout the academic year.
Evan Jasper, a teacher at Wheaton Academy, a Christian high school in West Chicago, Illinois, came up with the idea in 2014 to connect the students with Windsor Park residents, who shared wisdom gained over the years as well as their faith journeys. The residents and students meet six times a year.
Their positive interactions have been profound. “It’s been one of my greatest joys as a teacher to see this partnership play out,” Jasper said. “I’m also personally encouraged and inspired by what the adults share at Windsor Park to live my life more fully for Christ and to love others more fully.”
“The residents of Windsor Park have incredible life stories,” said Andrew Clauson, Windsor Park’s executive director. “Many have a scholarly expertise in history, and many have a first-hand perspective of major events in modern history.”
Clauson added, “The students of Wheaton Academy bring fresh curiosity and enthusiasm for learning that our residents love.”
Wheaton Academy student Paige Petty worked with resident Alice Huskey. “I really liked learning about life lessons from the residents,” Petty said. “Like learning to be still and know God is in control.”
“The people who have lived longer than me are full of wisdom and knowledge, so I like to refer to them as wise people, not old people.” –Jonathan Austriaco, high school sophomore
Sharing life experiences is one of the reasons Huskey enjoyed her time with the students so much. “The small groups are nice. It’s a chance to open them up and to start looking at things differently in life,” she said.
High school sophomore Andrew Pratt said, “I thought it would be good to get a feeling of what people later in life think, and to listen to their advice. I was surprised by the enjoyment of life they have, and their values are so great. I learned that even when I’m older, I can still make a huge difference in the world and change the way people think.”
For sophomore Jonathan Austriaco the interaction changed his perception of the generations before him. “The people who have lived longer than me are full of wisdom and knowledge, so I like to refer to them as wise people, not old people,” he explained.
The meetings were also a chance to have some fun—Windsor Park resident Wallace Alcorn learned to use a fidget spinner—and learn more about their fellow residents.
“It was quite an honor to have a chance to present to the kids a different side of life from what they have been exposed to,” Windsor Park resident Jim Carr said. “And I was fascinated listening to my peers and their views.”
On May 11 students returned to Windsor Park a final time to present a video they created for residents. In it students reflect on the wisdom and advice shared by Windsor Park residents.
Jasper plans to partner with residents again for the 2017-18 school year.