The gift of Time

Chocolay seniors help teach Cherry Creek students cribbage, knitting

The library at Cherry Creek Elementary is filled with fifth-grade students and members of the Chocolay Senior Center as they get to know each other while knitting, crocheting or playing cribbage. (Journal photos by Cecilia Brown)

MARQUETTE — Younger generations can gain a wealth of knowledge from their elders.

One example of this occurred April 11 at Cherry Creek Elementary School, when Chocolay Senior Center members came into the school to help fifth-grade students learn cribbage, crocheting and knitting.

“For these people to come out here and reach out to our students and to sit and patiently help them through a game is just amazing,” said Mary Bengry, a fifth-grade teacher at Cherry Creek who helped coordinate the event. “There are some lessons you can’t learn in a book and this is one of those. And time is the best thing that you can give to somebody sometimes.”

The intergenerational cribbage session, which was the first of its type at Cherry Creek, came together because local seniors were interested in playing cribbage with students — and the fifth-grade students happened to be practicing cribbage to further develop their math skills, organizers said.

“Playing cribbage is one of my favorite hobbies, so I play at the senior center with other adults over there, and when I found out about this, I thought ‘Oh I can’t wait to go there,'” said Carol Lamirand, a Chocolay Senior Center member. “So we’re all excited on both ends, the children and we as senior citizens are happy.”

From left, Carol Lamirand, of the Chocolay Senior Center, plays a game of cribbage with Brady Janofski, 11, a fifth-grade student at Cherry Creek Elementary School. Chocolay senior center members came to the school April 11 to help the students learn cribbage, knitting and crocheting. Students and seniors alike enjoyed the experience and hope to do it again soon, organizers said.

The seniors used their wealth of cribbage knowledge to help students improve their cribbage game and math skills, organizers said.

“Playing cribbage teaches them to think faster, do it in their head and do it quickly,” said Judy White of the Chocolay Senior Center, who helped to coordinate the event.

The intergenerational group spent time in pairs and small groups that afternoon, sharing tips, conversations, laughs and smiles.

“It is just a fun game, you have to do a lot of mental math and learn strategy,” Bengry said, noting that she uses cribbage in her class to teach math in an immersive way.

For Lamirand and her cribbage-playing partner, fifth-grade student Brady Janofski, the game offered a learning experience and a fun way for the pair to get to know each other.

Cherry Creek Elementary School students learn to knit with a member of the Chocolay Senior Center in the school’s library April 11. The intergenerational learning opportunity benefitted students and seniors alike, organizers said. (Journal photos by Cecilia Brown)

“He’s very good at adding and he knows the basics of the game, I’m thoroughly enjoying playing with him,” Lamirand said. “And we found out that we have common relatives.”

Janofski, who first learned cribbage several years ago from his family, enjoyed the opportunity to expand his math and cribbage skills through playing the game in school and getting a chance to play with Lamirand.

“It’s fun playing, I learn more stuff as I play,” he said.

Other students had a chance to learn knitting and crocheting from the seniors, gathering around while senior center members patiently introduced them to the basics and helped them start their projects.

It’s important to bring these two generations together, organizers said, because it offers an opportunity for both to socialize with and learn from a person of different age.

“Personally, I think the children need to associate with any grandparent, whether its a relative or not,” White said. “And that’s good communications learning, it’s good for them to see the young children and I think it teaches the children some respect of the elders. Younger generations can gain a wealth of knowledge from their elders.

Organizers said they hope to bring the senior center back to the school for another session, as they found all involved enjoyed the chance to spend time together.

“If it all goes well today, we would like to come back and do it again with the children,” White said. “Because it seems to me that everybody seems to really be enjoying themselves.”