Students of the (UMMS) School Leo Club gave a presentation to residents of retirement community that compared the residents’ lives as teenagers with the teen culture of today.
“They got to hear a lot of first-hand accounts of people who lived through Vietnam and Korea,” Dwight Dulsky, Leo Club advisor and UMMS art teacher, said. “You have to remember, none of these students were even born when man walked on the moon.”
Dulsky, who has been advisor for the Leo Club for the last three years, said that the March 13 “Then-and-Now” presentation is part of the club’s commitment to community service.
In the past, the Leo Club, which is the junior division of the Willow Grove Lions Club, has helped raise funds for the Leader Dog Foundation in Michigan, which trains guide dogs for the blind. Last year, the Leo Club helped raise funds to purchase pet oxygen masks for the .
Keeping it Local
In determining community service projects this year, Dulsky said that he wanted to keep it local.
“This year, we wanted to focus on projects really close, and work with the residents that are right across the parking lot from our school,” Dulsky said.
The presentation took place in the community room of Wesley Enhanced Living, located in Hatboro, and shares a property line with UMMS.
The retirement community, many of whose residents have grandchildren that attend one of the schools in the adjacent school complex, enjoy a close relationship with the school district. The school district students often visit Wesley Enhanced Living for their various school-related projects.
According to Dulsky, this is the first time that Leo Club students have taken the trip to visit the residents of Wesley.
“Our students had interviewed the residents about what it was like to be teenagers many years ago,” Dulsky said.
He said that just by talking with the residents, the students learned a lot about the history of their immediate community.
“I think it gives the students a bit of inspiration, because they’ve only heard of these things maybe through reading about it in their textbooks and their social studies class,” Dulsky said. “And, now they’ve had a real chance to connect with those who lived it.”
Robyn Fine, Wesely Enhanced Living director of resident programs, said it was a particular pleasure to coordinate this project with the Leo Club.
“And, the residents, when they left, said, what a great experience that was,” Fine said after the presentation. “It was a trip down memory lane.”
Trip Down Memory Lane
According to UMMS eighth-grade student and Leo Club president Katie Dormer, Leo Club students sat down with several Wesley residents back in November for an approximately one-and-a-half-hour group interview. The students then took all the information back to school, and as a club, they worked on compiling their notes and creating a presentation about it.
“I liked doing this project,” Katie said. “I thought it was really fascinating, because I learned a bunch of stuff I didn’t know.”
Katie said for the presentation, Leo Club students had to scour the Internet to find photo or image examples of the types of subjects they had interviewed the Wesley residents about, such as a picture of what the game “kick the can” looks like.
According to Katie, it took the club members a little over two months, meeting on occasion to work together after school.
“I actually like doing this,” Katie said of the project. “I didn’t mind the work.”
During the Power point presentation, several of the Leo Club students took turns providing the narrative to the general categories they created, along with the compilation of related pictures.
The Generation(s) Gap
Such categories included: Travel, Sports, Entertainment, Cothing, News, Food, School Days and Communication.
“With communication back then, a lot of it was with dial phones, where when you used it, you had to spin it [the dial]. And, type writers were used to send letters,” Matt Cooper, Leo Club member said during the presentation. “And now, we have the iPhone, where you can use it to get on the Internet to watch videos on YouTube.”
Matt continued by adding, instead of sending letters today, teens typically use text-messaging on their mobile device, which can even provide real-time, face-to-face communication using the mobile device’s video camera.
The students found some similarities in teen culture to be interesting, such as American teenagers in the 1950s ate mac-and-cheese just as teenagers do today; while some components of past and present teen culture showed a clear generation gap.
One instance was during the entertainment category, in which described popular teen idols of both eras, placing Frank Sinatra and Justin Bieber in a curious juxtoposition.
“Speaking personally, I don’t think the gap is that big,” Dot Beaver, Wesley Enhanced Living resident said. “I liked talking to the younger generation and give them the benefit of my limited knowledge and experience.”
She said that the students were very easy to talk with, and enjoyed explaining a few things about her childhood.
“They asked us what we did for recreation, what programs did we watch?” Beaver said. “But, of course, when I was growing up, we didn’t have television. I listened to the radio.”
She, along with several other fellow residents came to listen to the Leo Club presentation, and seemed to be appreciative of the students’ efforts.
“Our interview in the beginning was very interesting,” Beaver said. “And, what they brought back was wonderful.”