By Norma Richman
Forty smiling 49ers filed into the British Home in Sierra Madre to regale the residents with songs from California’s Gold Rush Period. As a roomful of seniors listened on, Story Lim and Francesca Gomez-Novy explained the history of the Gold Rush, even noting how the importance of the Gold Rush was better than gold— it was really the birth of entrepreneurship in California.
It was “happy hour” at the assisted living establishment, and the mood was festive as the fourth graders sang “She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain”, “My Darling Clementine” and “This Land Is Your Land” with aplomb. The singers were accompanied by Emily Guman on guitar, Bella Dodd on spoons and Sunshine Haedike on washboard—all lending an air of authenticity to the performance.
Originally assisted living for Brits and British descendants, The British Home now welcomes residents from all over to its idyllic grounds. While High Point’s fourth graders sought out those who still maintained a charming British accent, they mixed and mingled with all the residents, cookies in hand, and the interactions between young and old were heart-warming. Even 108-year-old Sophie Hules joined the gathering!
Who learned the most from the experience?
Karolina Azula, age 10, noted, “It was a wonderful experience talking to the residents and singing for them. The residents were really nice and some were singing along with us.”
“I really enjoyed my visit to the British Home, singing the 49ers songs and listening to the residents’ comments. It was really a worthwhile activity,” noted Katherine Clark, age 10.
“It was amazing talking to the residents. When I was talking to some of them they told me what their childhood was like,” said 10-year-old Eliana Gonzalez.
Nathan Edgar, age 9, added: “At the British Home there were some really kind people who sang along.”
James Wang, 10, summed up the entire afternoon this way: “It was an experience I’ll never forget.”