Words of the wise from the greatest generation


By Hope Lecchi - [email protected]



Hezikian Montgo listens Wednesday as Cliff Lear explains a basketball play he used with his team when he was a coach. The two spent the better part of an hour talking about basketball and life as part of the Sedalia Middle School’s new program “Words from the Wise.” In the program, students from the middle school visit residents at Winchester Meadows Assisted Living to learn from the residents their experiences as members of the greatest generation.


Baily N. Brown shakes the hand of Grace Edmondson Wednesday morning as Clay Pilliard looks on. Pilliard is the great-grandson of Edmondson and was paired with her during part of the discussion Wednesday morning at Winchester Meadows Assisted Living. The 22 middle school students spent part of the morning sharing stories and learning the history of the residents before sharing ice cream bars with the residents.


Lucas Aldrich listens as Helen Ellis tells him a story about her life as a student. Many of the residents lived through the Great Depression and had family members who served during World War II, if they did not personally serve. After the students returned to the middle school and were asked to write of their conversations. one student wrote, “I agree the elderly are the greatest generation … because they are more experienced through labor, hardships, and politics, which are America’s most valuable assets.”


June DePew, left, talks to Bailey N. Brown while fellow student Leyton Burt listens to Dot Steely and Merle Steely Wednesday morning. Matthew Herren, SMS counselor, arranged the meeting between the students and residents and has planned to make the visits once a month. Herren, who serves as a chaplain at Winchester Meadows, said the residents consistently ask how the students are and want to share their experiences with the students.


Trudy Knight leans in to speak to two students from the Sedalia Middle School on Wednesday morning. Residents from Winchester Meadows Assisted Living were paired with students from SMS to share their life stories as part of a new program “Words from the Wise.” One student wrote after returning to school that the residents should be considered part of the greatest generation because, “They fought in war and know a lot about life and they didn’t have electronics. They had to live with what they got.”


By Hope Lecchi

[email protected]

Hezikian Montgo listens Wednesday as Cliff Lear explains a basketball play he used with his team when he was a coach. The two spent the better part of an hour talking about basketball and life as part of the Sedalia Middle School’s new program “Words from the Wise.” In the program, students from the middle school visit residents at Winchester Meadows Assisted Living to learn from the residents their experiences as members of the greatest generation.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/web1_tsd020426seniortalk1.jpgHezikian Montgo listens Wednesday as Cliff Lear explains a basketball play he used with his team when he was a coach. The two spent the better part of an hour talking about basketball and life as part of the Sedalia Middle School’s new program “Words from the Wise.” In the program, students from the middle school visit residents at Winchester Meadows Assisted Living to learn from the residents their experiences as members of the greatest generation.

Baily N. Brown shakes the hand of Grace Edmondson Wednesday morning as Clay Pilliard looks on. Pilliard is the great-grandson of Edmondson and was paired with her during part of the discussion Wednesday morning at Winchester Meadows Assisted Living. The 22 middle school students spent part of the morning sharing stories and learning the history of the residents before sharing ice cream bars with the residents.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/web1_tsd020416seniortlk2.jpgBaily N. Brown shakes the hand of Grace Edmondson Wednesday morning as Clay Pilliard looks on. Pilliard is the great-grandson of Edmondson and was paired with her during part of the discussion Wednesday morning at Winchester Meadows Assisted Living. The 22 middle school students spent part of the morning sharing stories and learning the history of the residents before sharing ice cream bars with the residents.

Lucas Aldrich listens as Helen Ellis tells him a story about her life as a student. Many of the residents lived through the Great Depression and had family members who served during World War II, if they did not personally serve. After the students returned to the middle school and were asked to write of their conversations. one student wrote, “I agree the elderly are the greatest generation … because they are more experienced through labor, hardships, and politics, which are America’s most valuable assets.”
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/web1_tsd020416seniortalk3.jpgLucas Aldrich listens as Helen Ellis tells him a story about her life as a student. Many of the residents lived through the Great Depression and had family members who served during World War II, if they did not personally serve. After the students returned to the middle school and were asked to write of their conversations. one student wrote, “I agree the elderly are the greatest generation … because they are more experienced through labor, hardships, and politics, which are America’s most valuable assets.”

June DePew, left, talks to Bailey N. Brown while fellow student Leyton Burt listens to Dot Steely and Merle Steely Wednesday morning. Matthew Herren, SMS counselor, arranged the meeting between the students and residents and has planned to make the visits once a month. Herren, who serves as a chaplain at Winchester Meadows, said the residents consistently ask how the students are and want to share their experiences with the students.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/web1_tsd020626seniortalk4.jpgJune DePew, left, talks to Bailey N. Brown while fellow student Leyton Burt listens to Dot Steely and Merle Steely Wednesday morning. Matthew Herren, SMS counselor, arranged the meeting between the students and residents and has planned to make the visits once a month. Herren, who serves as a chaplain at Winchester Meadows, said the residents consistently ask how the students are and want to share their experiences with the students.

Trudy Knight leans in to speak to two students from the Sedalia Middle School on Wednesday morning. Residents from Winchester Meadows Assisted Living were paired with students from SMS to share their life stories as part of a new program “Words from the Wise.” One student wrote after returning to school that the residents should be considered part of the greatest generation because, “They fought in war and know a lot about life and they didn’t have electronics. They had to live with what they got.”
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/web1_tsd020416seniortalk5.jpgTrudy Knight leans in to speak to two students from the Sedalia Middle School on Wednesday morning. Residents from Winchester Meadows Assisted Living were paired with students from SMS to share their life stories as part of a new program “Words from the Wise.” One student wrote after returning to school that the residents should be considered part of the greatest generation because, “They fought in war and know a lot about life and they didn’t have electronics. They had to live with what they got.”

Some of the most powerful lessons found in life often come from others. It may be from watching the example someone else sets or it may come from the simple act of taking the time to speak to another, but equally as important, taking the time to listen to another.

Twenty-two fifth grade students from the Sedalia Middle School were given a unique opportunity to participate in a new program that allows them to learn those life lessons from members of the greatest generation Wednesday morning.

The students traveled to Winchester Meadows Assisted Living to talk to residents at the facility about the experiences the residents have encountered in their lives as part of the “Words from the Wise” program.

“The residents here really have such a heart for giving back,” said Matthew Herren, counselor at SMS. “They have such huge hearts and such a concern for the younger generation.

“Every time I am here they consistently ask me how the students are,” Herren added. “Their desire to want to help with this project was overwhelming and I can’t thank them enough.”

Herren has firsthand experience working with the residents at Winchester Meadows because he serves as the chaplain at the facility.

“The residents here have such fascinating lives,” Herren said. “If you look around the room some of these individuals have owned their own businesses, they are educators, and pastors and railroad men.

“One of the husbands and wives who live here spent 25 years in Africa and that was back when you had to take a boat to get there,” Herren added with a laugh. “They come from such diverse backgrounds and they all have stories to tell.”

The students also come from diverse backgrounds and were eager to listen as well as tell their stories to the residents.

“Some of the students that are here today are student leaders, but others are incredibly shy and reserved,” SMS Principal Sara Pannier said. “After watching them interact in just this short time you realize it is the perfect symbiotic relationship for both the students and residents.”

The students were given a list of questions to ask the residents but it did not take long before they and their interview subjects decided the prepared questions were not necessary for a good conversation.

“Before we came we spoke to the students about several things especially dealing with the social aspect of the day,” Herren said. “We asked them to remember to say thank you and to sit up and look the person they were speaking to in the eye.

“We paired them in small groups and had them in a few areas so they could actually have conversations,” he added. “We are going to have to bring more students next month because this has been so successful.”

The program is scheduled to continue until the end of the school year.

“Our hopes are to come the first Wednesday of each month for an hour each time,” Herren added. “I really don’t think that these students can have a better history lesson that this opportunity to speak to these caring seniors.”

Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484

Sedalia Democrat

Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484

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