We are more alike than we are different is the lesson learned by most participants in the Ridgefield High School-Founders Hall collaborative program Maturity Matters, happening for the third year on April 14.
The one-day program pairs a senior citizen with a high school student for a day spent shadowing the student—attending classes, eating lunch prepared by the school's culinary program and learning about a modern student's life.
Founders Hall Director Grace Weber said that the program "was developed to encourage the senior population of Ridgefield to interact and participate with the students, faculty and administrators at Ridgefield High School for the mutual benefit of all those involved."
"The benefit to the seniors is that they get to experience high school again and see what the kids in town are doing," Weber said.
According to Amy Weaton, Ridgefield High School Maturity Matters student coordinator (and program participant for the past two years), the project has been a great success and a pleasant lesson to all participants.
But the format is changing a little bit this year—there will be fewer student participants and more seniors to help prevent an issue that cropped up last year, when there were too many students and not enough seniors involved in the shadowing day. Program organizers will pair 30 students with 30 seniors before the event by setting them up as penpals, Weaton said.
The seniors Weaton has worked with called the program "amazing" and noted how different the students were than what they expected. And the students gain the firsthand knowledge of the seniors who have led professional careers in some of their subjects and experienced some of the events they learn about in history class.
"Bringing these groups together addresses some of the unwarranted stereotyping we hear about so often," Weber said.