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Handprints Online

the online extension to the HMS newsletter

GrandPals at HMS

The award- winning GrandPal program began at HMS in 1999 with fourth grade teacher Harriet Douple’s vision for an intergenerational relationships for her students that would benefit all participants. Initially, the relationship was to be of a correspondence nature with  4th & 5th grade students exchanging e-mails and letters with residents of Landis Homes Retirement Community.

Residents of Landis Homes are carefully partnered with students from HMS. The activities director works closely with HMS fourth and fifth grade teachers to connect residents with students, taking into consideration personalities and interests.  Students become acquainted with their GrandPal in fourth grade, and the relationship extends into fifth grade. By the end of fifth grade, many have formed valuable friendships that benefit both generations. The rich opportunities provided in these relationships led to the expansion of the program.

The GrandPal program now involves monthly visits to Landis Homes where students first interview their GrandPals and later interact through social events such as the Bible Bee. The GrandPals also visit HMS once a year to view the middle school theater production with the students.

Many benefits of this program are nameable and many more are not. Students benefit academically and socially. They learn history from first hand accounts as GrandPals teach the students about life long ago. Students also build communication and writing skills as they conduct their interviews and write about what they have learned from their GrandPals. Through the years, family connections have been made among some GrandPals and students, making relationships even stronger. Austin Stoltzfus, graduate of HMS, recalled his favorite thing about the GrandPal program as hearing about what life was like long ago for them.

 Current students are saying the same thing as Austin. They report learning about The Great Depression, World War II, food rations, and the Watergate scandal that led to the impeachment of Richard Nixon. These lessons are coming from the mouths of those who have experienced them. Emily, a current 4th grader, said she likes learning “stuff I never knew before (by) talking to someone who lived it.”

Mrs. Raiser reports that many students feel nervous about their first meeting. Carefully planned activities and common interests lead to a feeling of comfort for most students and residents. The program benefits the older and younger alike by helping each to appreciate and respect the other.

Grandpals at HMS

These mutual benefits for the young and old gained the attention of the Pennsylvania Association of Non-Profit Homes for the Aging (PANPHA). In a 2005 publication PANPHA states, “For their inspirational creation of a mutually beneficial program for both young and old, PANPHA is proud to recognize Landis Home’s GrandPals program as Innovator of the Year.”

The award-winning program also builds faith in God. Faith is built up in students as they hear of God’s faithfulness throughout the lives of their GrandPals. The residents can see God’s faithfulness in the next generation. The benefits of such a relationship are countless. That is why the GrandPal Program, begun by Mrs. Douple, has become an HMS tradition for 13 years.

-Diane Ringler, HMS parent

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Open House Celebration - May 20, 2012
Celebrating completion of the classroom wing's second floor and the beginning of the solar power project
More Photos from the Open House Celebration
May 20, 2012

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