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Lewisboro Seniors Join With John Jay Middle School Students

CROSS RIVER, N.Y. – The generation gap had a bridge built over it at John Jay Middle School (JJMS) on Friday.

Students, along with members of the Lewisboro Adult Seniors group, got together for the seventh annual Intergenerational Exchange Day – an event designed to give both age groups an educational glimpse into each other’s lives.

“It’s a way to connect the seniors with our kids,” said JJMS Principal Richard Leprine. “The seniors have lunch with the sixth graders and then the students escort them so they can sit in on a classroom. Then the seniors give a talk on topics like World War II. It’s a connection and the kids learn from the seniors. It’s beautiful for everyone.”

Henry Maroncelli and Yvonne See were two of the seniors chosen to give presentations. Marconcelli grew up in the Depression and is a World War II vet. See grew up in England during the war and was a child refugee separated from her parents and sent from London to live in the countryside.

“I’ve been doing this since they started it seven years ago,” Marconcelli said. “It’s really great and the kids are all wonderful. We pick up energy from them and hope they pick up something from us by giving them a taste of the 30s were like and telling stories about when we went to war. It’s a two-way street.”

The students were engrossed as Marconcelli and See wove their tales.

“It was an amazing time as a boy to grow up in that (Depression) era,” Marconcelli told them. “We had to do things that hopefully you guys will never have to do. A nickel to us was a lot. If I handed you a nickel today, I don’t know what you’d do with it. But we could use it to buy a Spaldeen ball that would keep us occupied for hours.”

See regaled the group with her tale of being forced away from her parents and home in the city to live in the safety of the country during the German blitzkrieg.

“You had no idea where you were going or for how long or when you’d see your parents again,” See said. “I was 8 at the time. We came from London and didn’t know much about the country. But we eventually merged with country life and the cows and sheep.”

The seniors’ sixth-grade hosts said Intergenerational Exchange Day provided them with some insight that they couldn’t get from a textbook.

“It gives us a taste of what it was like back then,” said Daniel D’Amico. “And they get a chance to see what’s happening in the school now.”

Some of the students remarked that the day was a way for them to give back to the seniors for all they’ve done and accomplished.

“It’s fun to have the elders here and hang out with us,” said Nikolay Belandi. “We get a chance to thank them.”

Pam Veith, Lewisboro’s adult senior director, said Intergeneration Exchange Day was the brainchild of Lewisboro WWII veteran Bob Williams and John Hurly, a retired JJMS assistant principal.

“This is a program that many of the seniors have participated in since it started,” Veith said. “I think they really like to share their stories and the kids enjoy listening to them.”

After the seniors’ presentation, the day concluded with a special performance by the eighth-grade jazz band and a closing reception with refreshments in the theater lobby.

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